Friday, 24 February 2023 13:46

PNP: The JLP is afraid of losing badly at the polls

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PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) councillors say the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is afraid of losing badly at the polls and that is what motivated them to postpone the next local government elections by another year, making it the third postponement since 2020.

Government's main excuse for the most recent postponement was that it needed more time to ensure sustainability of the economy before it can call the elections, which were to be be held on February 28 this year, but have been pushed back to February 28, 2024.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Minister Desmond McKenzie made the announcement on Tuesday in the House of Representatives during the debate on the Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act.

Norman Scott, president of the National Caucus of PNP Councillors, at a virtual press conference on Thursday, described the decision to postpone the elections as a "travesty".

"We deem it a travesty when the Government conjures excuses that are baseless and inconsistent with what is reported by the said Government. The nation was made to believe that due to budgetary constraints, an election could not be held after the said Administration indicated that revenue collected by way of our tax dollars surpassed the estimated target by $80 million," said Scott, repeating a point already made by the Opposition in Parliament on Tuesday.

"We want to remind the Government that it is their responsibility to secure funding for the holding of any election and, after four years, no preparation was made in this regard for a local government election. This amounts to negligence on the part of the Government. This is tantamount to disrespect for the role and functions of the local authorities and the nation at large.

We were also made to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor in the delay.

"We hasten to remind the nation that in the peak of the pandemic in 2020, when all the countries impacted by the virus were going under lockdown, the Government called a general election. We now consider it hypocritical if the Government is using this pandemic as an excuse. Another argument being proffered is Portmore becoming a parish before the election is held. This is also another blatant disregard for the participatory democratic process that we are fighting so hard to build," Scott said, pointing out that legal action at this point might not make sense.

"Legal action is an option. However, because of the time it will take to get a result in the courts, it might not be possible because of the time. The elections have been postponed for one year and to get a matter like this into the court, by the time a result is to be given, the one year period would have elapsed," he said.

Scean Barnswell, minority leader of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, demanded that the Government snap out of dictatorship mode and do what is right for the benefit of the people of Jamaica. He pointed out that since 2016, at least 10 councillors have either died or have moved up in the political ranks and therefore the people must be given the opportunity to vote for who they want to represent them.