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$12m budget for PNP conference

Published:Friday | September 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

The ruling People's National Party has set aside $12 million for its three-day 76th Annual Conference which commences today.

The conference will feature two private sittings today and tomorrow at the Chinese Benevolent Centre and Jamaica College, respectively, culminating at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Sunday when the public will be free to attend.

This year's budget represents a $5.1-million reduction from the $17.1 million allocated for last year's staging.

"Last year was the 75th jubilee, so there were a lot more activities," party treasurer Norman Horne explained.

The $12 million will cover expenses such as renting the Chinese Benevolent Centre, Jamaica College and the National Indoor Sports Centre; paying for printing, barriers, and artwork; with a "meagre" amount also going to constituency and regional heads to help them offset expenses.

WIDE RANGE OF EXPENSES

"There is a wide range of expenses that are accumulated in this $12 million," Horne said. "But when I speak about a budget for the party, I speak in reference to what the party central has budgeted for it. Obviously, the constituencies would have their own budgets to take their people into conference, so that would not be part of my reference."

He added: "Party central provides a very meagre allocation to constituencies and a very meagre allocation to regions."

Horne does not anticipate the cost of the conference impacting how the party balances its books, with him describing their cash flow as "balanced" and their balance sheet as "solvent".

The funds for the conference, according to Horne, have been garnered from "members of the party, which are through fees and dues and other party-member obligations, and also through contributions from individuals and businesses".

Though not willing to divulge who some of the individuals are or which businesses have contributed to the budget, Horne explained why it is necessary to source funds from outside the party.

"Democracy is an expensive process; there is no doubt about that," Horne reasoned. "Political parties in Jamaica don't earn revenues. Political parties meet their expenses through various contributions from the wider society; it is not an unusual affair."

As has become the norm in recent years, audited financial reports will be available for deliberation at the conference.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com