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House approves Campaign Financing Bill despite concern

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Paulwell ... We should not seek to make perfection the enemy of the good.

Jamaica is now one step closer to having the campaign financing bill made into law after the House of Representatives this afternoon approved the legislation despite concern that it does not go far enough.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Noting that the law needs significant tightening, the West Portland MP Daryl Vaz, said the campaign finance bill is merely an ambitious piece of legislation.

But in moving for the passage of the bill, Phillip Paulwell, the Leader of Government Business said the law was needed.

"We should not seek to make perfection the enemy of the good," he said.

The campaign finance bill provides a framework for the funding of election campaigns and makes it illegal for certain donors to contribute to the funding of election campaigns.

It also provides for state funding of political parties.

Contributing to the debate on the bill today, Vaz said the bill speaks purely to collections and expenditure during the campaign period.

The bill defines a campaign period as the time from the announcement of the election to the holding of the polls.

Vaz said many prospective candidates have been spending huge funds decorating campaign vehicles and buying campaign items such as armbands and t-shirts.

These expenses, he noted, will not be captured in the $10 million that candidates are allowed to spend during a campaign period.

The West Portland MP also said the bill fails to take into account, the fact that candidates can pay for services before the start of the campaign period, and that cash transactions and contributions "in brown paper bags" can go undetected.

But despite the appeal, the House passed the bill without amendments.

In the meantime, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica has been asked to review the $10 million limit for each candidate.