Tue | May 23, 2017

Papine's ghost of patronage

Published:Friday | December 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

We are glad for the opportunity to support Papine division councillor, Venesha Phillips, in something: that she will not be party to the distribution of work along political lines. For that, the People's National Party (PNP) politician was allegedly shot at. Or, shots were fired in her direction.

But Wednesday in the Papine area highlights a fundamental flaw in the management of politics in Jamaica: the role that politicians, parliamentarians, councillors and caretakers have come to play in the distribution of state and other resources. It has evolved into the entrenchment of patronage in politics.

Among the most blatant features of this system is the access to taxpayers' money, from the pork barrel called the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) that MPs are allowed to deliver gravy-soaked slivers to constituents - to pay school fees, to bury the dead or any project they can contrive, once it satisfies the tests of the supposed oversight body.

It is amazing that the opportunity to be immersed in the grease of the CDF is one of the few things about which there is absolutely bipartisan consensus. MPs imbue the delivery of its rind with personal benevolence rather than a shakedown of the Treasury.

We don't know who funded the project that is the subject of discord in Ms Phillips' division, but it is the outcome of the same seed as the CDF and of the nature of Jamaica's politics. Perhaps now, Ms Phillips can find a worthy voice.