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Smith takes Blaine to task on committee's deliberations

Published:Tuesday | September 8, 2015 | 7:09 PM
Ian Allen/Photographer Betty Ann Blaine
Derrick Smith

Chairman of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament, Derrick Smith, on Tuesday castigated founder of Hear the Children's Cry, Betty Ann Blaine, for stinging criticisms of the parliamentary group reviewing a disclosure motion relating to civil-society groups.

In his opening comments, Smith said he found disturbing a Sunday Gleaner article written by Blaine, titled 'Concern or mischief? - parliamentary oversight of NGOs'.

He said the writer seemed to have arrived at a conclusion on the parliamentary deliberations which were still taking place.

Smith argued that his committee had no "hidden agenda" but was given the task to review the private member's motion moved by Member of Parliament for North East St Elizabeth Raymond Pryce.

The motion called for civil-society groups to be registered and to disclose the names of persons who donate funds to these organisations.

without bias

In the commentary, Blaine said: "Somebody needs to explain to the people of Jamaica who or what is behind the current campaign to seemingly harass the non-governmental organisations (NGOs)."

She argued that it appeared odd and hypocritical that politicians elected and accountable to "the people and opposed to any disclosure of their financial backers would be the ones calling for NGOs to do what they have refused to do for the longest time".

"Any call for disclosure must be a national effort involving all areas of public, and in some cases, private life, without bias or ill will. To single out a particular sector for scrutiny, particularly the charitable, not-for-profit community, appears to be highly subjective and suspicious at best," she said.

However, Smith said the committee was discussing the motion with an open mind and would submit a report to the House of Representatives at the end of its deliberations.