Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Pryce wants full disclosure of campaign spending

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

North East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament (MP) Raymond Pryce is calling for the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to publish, in full, all expenses incurred by persons who contest general elections.

Contributing to a landmark campaign finance bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Pryce argued that the portion published by the commission does not give a true reflection of a candidate's declaration.

He said, too, that unless the ECJ moves to change the manner in which the publication is done, efforts to continue the clean-up the electoral system will not bring the desired results in terms of engendering public confidence in the process.

Pryce who, according to the ECJ, incurred no expenses in his successful run for Parliament in the 2011 general election, said the declaration does not give a true picture of the reality.

He said there are two parts to the current form, one of which covers expenses to be declared for things such as rental of premises, utilities, and speakers who appear on behalf of candidates, as well as the cost for canvassing.

"The amounts declared in that section of the form are published by the Electoral Office of Jamaica," Pryce said.

He added that there is a second aspect to the form which deals with the cost of printing paraphernalia and related campaign material. This, he said, is not made public.

The MP said that "statements of non-fact" are frequently published in the press about the spending of politicians. He took note of an article published in The Gleaner, which accused parliamentarians of hypocrisy in the debate on the limits and caps on campaign contribution, which he said could be avoided if the revamp is done.

"It seems to me that an aspect of this amendment could have, and should have included a determination by the authority with responsibility to administer elections to change the instrumentation and the manner in which it notifies the public as to the expenditure of candidates at both the constituency level, as an individual, and at the level of a party as an organisation," Pryce added.

"If both parts of the forms were published, then the misconception which has been kept alive by some in the media and elsewhere across the public that parliamentarians do not file truthful declarations as to the expenditure incurred in a successful campaign could only continue to erode public trust in the institution of Parliament and the democracy which the Parliament ought to protect," the MP said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com