As many Jamaicans continue to push for a public exposure of political donors and remove the secrecy from campaign financing, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) have steered clear of divulging the dollar value of their respective efforts to form the next government.
At the same time, PNP treasurer Mark Golding says his party is willing to go public right now if the JLP joins them.
"We have been pushing for the necessary legislation to be passed to implement an appropriate disclosure framework. In the absence of that framework, we will be willing to disclose our sources of funding if the JLP does likewise.
"In a competitive election campaign where funding is an important strategic factor, it would be imprudent for us to unilaterally adopt a policy of disclosure while our main competitor has not," said Golding.
While the parties trade arguments over disclosure, campaign financing in Jamaica remains a clandestine affair although both parties shell out millions of dollars on advertisements alone.
Both camps were asked how much it costs to run a campaign and to name some of the areas that would require the bulk of the expenditure at both the constituency and national levels.
Neither party would quote a figure. But it is clear that mass media take the lion's share of the political spend during the election season.
"The figure to run a successful campaign will vary depending on many dynamics: political geography of seat, political population density and level of win ability," explained Senator Aundre Franklin, general secretary of the JLP.
He continued: "The bulk of our party national campaign funding goes into public relations expenditure, while at the constituency level it will be the holding of meetings and mobilisation."
PNP Senator Mark Golding, noted that major expenditure items include advertising and media coverage, the holding of public meetings and other events, as well as the printing of T-shirts and other party-stamped paraphernalia for supporters.
"The cost of running a successful campaign depends on factors such as the strength of your party's organisational preparedness on the ground, the depth of the national desire for change versus the satisfaction with the current path, your party's track record of past performance and achievements for the Jamaican people, the attractiveness of your party's team and the unattractiveness of the opposing team, and the strength and relevance of your party's message," said Golding.
According to Golding, "the stronger your party is in these areas, the greater the chances of success with less cash expenditures. On the other hand, if your party is weak in these areas, then vote buying and excessive expenditure is the only way to try to 'cross it'," he said.
Meanwhile, both parties have reiterated their support to the passing of legislation to govern campaign financing. "The Jamaica Labour Party has publicly endorsed the proposals of the Electoral Commission as it relates to campaign funding and has signed the report which is to be sent to Parliament and will actively move in Parliament to have the supporting legislation passed," said Franklin. According to Golding, the PNP is on record as agreeing with the principle of disclosure of the sources of campaign funds.
"The move to disclosure campaign finance sources will be a significant departure from existing culture and practice. The PNP thinks that there will need to be a period of public discussion and consultation about the proposed framework, with the input of all stakeholders (including the private sector, which is an important source of campaign finance)," reasoned Golding.