Local gov’t polls off till February 2022
Local government elections that are due by November 29 have been deferred by up to one year and three months.
Lawmakers amended the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) on Tuesday to reflect the deferral, effectively pushing back the polls to February 27, 2022.
The local government polls, which are slated to be held over a four-year cycle, were last conducted on November 28, 2016. ROPA provides for a 90-day extension, which would push the deadline to February 27, 2021.
However, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie told his parliamentary colleagues that more time was needed as the country faced significant challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
McKenzie, who piloted the bill, said that the cost of staging local government elections this year would be onerous, noting that the Government was now responding to urgent needs of Jamaicans occasioned by COVID-19 and the damage to infrastructure stemming from the recent heavy rains.
The local government minister said that the elections would be held within the new stipulated period.
The parliamentary Opposition acquiesced with the decision to delay the local polls.
Mark Golding, the opposition leader, said it was in the best interest of the public that the country should not have to go through another election campaign while the pandemic was still raging. Jamaica has recorded 10,422 coronavirus infections and 243 deaths.
Members of the Upper House are expected to debate the bill shortly.