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Gov't withdraws plans to debate bill blocking Portmore councillors from St Catherine PC

Published:Tuesday | November 8, 2016 | 11:27 PM
Phillip Paulwell ... The Government withdrew the bill because of the Opposition's protest.

Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

The Andrew Holness administration has bowed to pressure from the Opposition to call off the debate on a bill that would block councillors of the Portmore Municipality from sitting in the St Catherine Parish local authority, formerly called parish council.

Public notice of the Government's intention to pass the bill during today's sitting was made via the Parliamentary agenda issued this morning.

Just before the start of the sitting, Leader of Opposition Business, Phillip Paulwell told The Gleaner that the  Government withdrew the bill because of the Opposition's protest.

Paulwell's People's National  Party (PNP) had issued a statement accusing the Government of pursuing the measure without any consultation with the people of Portmore or the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

"It is very disturbing that fundamental changes to the electoral process are proposed at the 11th hour," the party said, referring to the November 28 Local Government election.

According to the PNP, this would set a bad precedence for governance.

The Portmore  municipality has 12 councillors who also sit in the 41-seat St Catherine Parish Council.

Mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott has argued that blocking the Portmore representatives would weaken the St Catherine Parish Council and create an advantage for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

The JLP is seeking to overturn the PNP's control of local authorities.

The Holness administration has not said why it was pushing for the electoral changes without consultation.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com