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Party funding and taxpayers

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I write in response to Joan Williams' letter to the editor, captioned 'Don't burden taxpayers with party funding', published Monday, December 8, 2014.

Shifting party funding from the consumer to the taxpayer curtails corruption and facilitates more transparency and justice. Allowing and regulating party funding by the taxpayers was but an overdue step in the right direction towards more true democracy in Jamaica. More steps have to follow suit.

BMW's donation

Whenever you buy an imported item, you almost always assist in funding a political party abroad. For instance, BMW last year generously donated €321,000 to three German political parties. The lion's share, €144,000, was allocated to the Christian Democrats, who, with a little help from Jamaican owners of BMWs, won the general election.

Whenever you buy something, manufactured or imported by a Jamaican company which sponsors a political party, you, too, pay your share of the donation, whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, there is no way to find out who is benefiting from it.

Jamaica's political parties, unlike their counterparts in the USA and Europe, are not required to disclose their sponsors, how much each sponsor donates to each party, and who are the actual recipients of donations. This badly needs to be regularised, too. Lack of transparency is an open invitation to corruption.

Knowing who greases whose palms is better than not knowing it. Transparency reveals corruption, but doesn't stop it altogether. Legislation which limits donations to political parties to small amounts, affordable by the majority of the electorate, is even better, and genuinely representational of the people. Jamaica can do better.