Holness, Paulwell score low on accountability meter
Founder of Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) Jeanette Calder said the website, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, will become a useful tool in aiding transparency among elected officials.
Funded by the European Union, JAMP tracks accountability issues that span the last five years of public administration in Jamaica.
When asked about the value of the assessments, Calder told The Gleaner after the website published grades for members of parliament (MPs), using its own measuring mechanism, that it matters greatly in the battle against corruption.
“I think an accountability metre has not mattered to the public because the information has never been presented to the public. It has never mattered because the public has not had easy access, and that is part of the mandate of JAMP,” Calder said.
She reasoned that it adds another layer of accountability and transparency and sheds more light on the work of parliamentarians.
“This matters tremendously, particularly the Constituency Development Fund reports, especially when you begin to realise some MPs have not even spent half the constituency fund money,” Calder said.
“So, for citizens to know this and when that MP knows that the people know, then there is an automatic behaviour modification that speaks to transparency and accountability,” she added.
She said that JAMP has not found it easy to acquire the reports, adding that only six out of the 63 MPs made submissions available.
The six MPs are St Elizabeth South West Member of Parliament Floyd Green, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn (St Andrew West Rural), Marlene Malahoo Forte (St James West Central), Julian Robinson (St Andrew South East), Peter Bunting (Manchester Central) and Phillip Paulwell (Kingston East and Port Royal).
Of the six, however, only Bunting, Robinson and Paulwell have submitted reports for all five years.
The report was highlighted in a tweet from Bunting.
“Based on parliamentary attendance, CDF information, asset declaration, etc. @jamp_jamaica has graded me 97 per cent, the highest score amongst my colleagues. Constituents do appreciate that the MP’s role includes a critical responsibility for Parliamentary participation & oversight,” he said.
St Mary South East MP Dr Norman Dunn also notched 97 per cent.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness scored 57 per cent on the meter, while National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang was given a grade of 70 per cent.
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips scored 86 per cent, while Phillip Paulwell (38 per cent) was among the lowest scores.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck (77 per cent) scored better than Holness, as did Audley Shaw, the minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, who had a score of 74 per cent. Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton scored 77 per cent.
Minister without Portfolio J.C. Hutchinson, who was stripped recently after allegations of nepotism while at the Ministry of Agriculture, scored 77 per cent, with firebrand MP Everald Warmington receiving 79 per cent. Education Minister Karl Samuda was graded at 55 per cent.
In arriving at the grades, JAMP said it has identified three performance indicators to assist the public in assessing the compliance of members of parliament and senators.
These indicators include attendance rate for the general sitting of the House and any other parliamentary committee on which the MP serves, whether the Public Accounts Committee or the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee. That carries a weight of 40 per cent.
The second indicator includes compliance with the CDF policy, which requires each MP to consult with their constituents to determine how the $20 million provided each year will be used for development. That has a weight of 20 per cent. Third, the provision of statutory declaration of assets, as required by law from each parliamentarian, is weighted at 40 per cent.
JAMP said it obtains reports via the Access to Information legislation and from the Constituency Development Fund Unit. These reports indicate whether the MPs have held the required meetings with their constituents.
In 2015, the CDF policy was amended. MPs were no longer required to meet annually but biannually.
Therefore, from 2016 onwards, JAMP’s assessment has been changed to reflect that modification.
If an MP meets with his/her constituents, a score of 100 is allocated. If the meeting did not take place, the score is 0 out of 100. If an MP meets each year, instead of every other year, no additional points are given.