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JAMAICA | Opposition Vexed by Govt's Voter Re-verification Delay

Featured Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has warned that if the country cannot rely on the assurances by Ministers to Parliament ,"we are asking to take the disputes to the streets". Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has warned that if the country cannot rely on the assurances by Ministers to Parliament ,"we are asking to take the disputes to the streets".
KINGSTON, March 1, 2018 - The Opposition Peoples National Party is not happy that the government has reneged on its commitment to set aside $700 million in this year's  Budget to undertake the long awaited re-verification of the voters' list.

 

At yesterday's Standing Finance Committee meeting, opposition members expressed their disgust at the Government's decision not to include the promised  budgetary allocation for reverification of the voters' list in the 2018/2019 budget.

The matter was raised by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Mark Golding, who questioned whether money had been set aside in the current budget for the process.
 
The issue was then taken up by Julian Robinson, Member of Parliament for St. Andrew South Eastern, who argued that it was Finance Minister Audley Shaw who had pledged that monies would have been provided for the reverification process.
 
"The $700 million was in there but taken out, so I want to know what is different that this senior member in 2015 felt so passionately and so stridently about and now has reversed himself," he questioned.  
 
Mr. Shaw responded, explaining that it was a Cabinet decision.
 
"The issue is that it is the decision of the Cabinet that at this time, having regard to the major priorities that we have, not the least of which is the crime and murder conditions in the country, that we are not able to start this programme in this coming fiscal year. We have to put it off to the next fiscal year," he told the Committee. 

However, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips warned that if the country cannot rely on the assurances given by ministers to Parliament,"we are asking to take the disputes to the streets."

"Parliament is being treated with disrespect. The assurances of ministers are not worth anything, and if the parliamentary democracy cannot work, then something else is going to have to cause good sense to return," Phillips told parliament yesterday.

"We are trespassing on the most dangerous ground," Phillips declared.

Shaw told his colleague parliamentarians that Cabinet had decided to place priority on national security and the rule of law. He indicated that sums had been reallocated to tackle the soaring murder rate and crime problem plaguing the country. Last year, 1,616 Jamaicans were murdered, with St James registering record levels at 335.

"In the subsequent consideration of the realignment of priorities, the minister was superseded by higher authority: the Cabinet of Jamaica," said Shaw in response to questions from the Opposition.

Parliamentary Opposition, was however not satisfied with the explanation which was met with a chorus of objections.

The Opposition became incensed after hearing of the switch in priorities from the promised voters' list reverification exercise to national security matters.

Chairman of the Standing Finance Committee Pearnel Charles Sr that said the Government should have advised the parliamentary opposition about its plans to delay the reverification exercise.

At the same time, MP for St Andrew South East Julian Robinson reminded Shaw that in 2015, he accused the then Government of refusing to carry out a reverification of the voters' list as part of a plot to win an election.

Quoting from a newspaper article, Robinson said that the then opposition spokesman had charged that the voters' list was padded with thousands of people who were either dead or had migrated.

Last modified onThursday, 01 March 2018 23:30
  • Countries: Jamaica

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