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EOJ wants funding in time for general election

Published:Saturday | October 8, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Orrette Fisher

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

DIRECTOR OF Elections Orrette Fisher says his office would be placed in an uncomfortable position if a general election is called and funding is not provided to buy capital goods.

Fisher's statement comes against the background of political analysts predicting a general election by December.

"If that was to happen, having assessed the resources and the levels of risk or exposure, and my perceived fear that we may not be able to put things in place, I would have to have discussions with the commission," Fisher said.

'ensure basic state of readiness'

Last last month, Fisher wrote to Financial Secretary Dr Wesley Hughes requesting $350 million "to ensure a basic state of readiness" for general election.

Those elections are due by September 2012 and could be extended to December.

Fisher said it is customary for the prime minister to enquire of the electoral office about its readiness whenever an early election is in the offing.

"I have had no such consultation. I am just being proactive since I have gotten to the stage now where we are in the last 12 months constitutionally," the director of elections told The Gleaner.

The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) spent approximately $1.3 billion to run the 2007 general election.

"Since the local government elections became due, even though it was postponed, every year we have submitted a budget to the Ministry of Finance and so they are aware," Fisher said.

The EOJ boss told The Gleaner that at least three months were needed to procure equipment and train persons to use them for an election.

"For example, printing capabilities. The list is 66,000 pages and we are supposed to provide four copies to each candidate on election day," Fisher said.

"... It is a huge amount of printing that we are required to do. The printing equipment to carry that load has to be in first-class condition," he said.