Addressing a meeting of PNP Councillors, caretakers and leadership from Regions 1 and 6 in Montego Bay on Sunday, Dr. Phillips said the action by the St James Municipal Corporation to remove two PNP Councillors who did not attend meetings because they were complying with the rules of the COVID-19 pandemic, was questionable and heartless and has left the people of Spring Gardens and Catadupa divisions without representation. This type of political shenanigans and one-upmanship weaken our democracy, he said.
“We don’t believe that there is any basis for their actions. The net effect is to weaken the accountability structures of local government in the St James Municipal Corporation; yet, they say that they believe in democracy and transparency,” Dr. Phillips said.
He said the deliberate effort to weaken the parish councils is also evident in the dismantling of the internal audit structures at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Council (KSAMC) that were left by the previous PNP administration of the municipality. This undermining of the internal audit function of the council has left the KSAMC without checks and balances to ensure the protection of public resources. Already, there are questions about the spending and accountability of funds which have prompted the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to call for an audit of the Corporation’s expenditure.
Dr. Phillips congratulated the PNP caucus in the St Ann Municipal Council for their activism and vigilance in calling out the misdeeds surrounding Mayor Michael Belnavis and defending the interests of the people they serve. He said the outstanding work of minority caucus along with the efforts of civil society groups such as the National Integrity Action (NIA) and the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) thwarted the total breakdown of the governance structures in the Council.
“There is no difference between those who have just joined the JLP and those who have been there before. It seems as if they are all committed to the belief that public funds belong to them. We will not tolerate it, and we will resist it at every stage along the way. But most importantly, it highlights to us the importance of winning the elections,” Dr. Phillips said.
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