The establishment of a National Election Campaign Fund is one of the recommended changes in the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2015, that deals with the issue of campaign financing.
Opening the debate on the Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, Phillip Paulwell, the legislator with responsibility for electoral matters, said the fund that would enable persons to make donations towards the electoral process.
“There are persons who don’t want to contribute directly to either of us (political parties).
They are able, in the National Election Campaign Fund, to make contributions which are administered by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ),” he said.
Paulwell explained that the fund will receive donations from legal and natural persons as well as Jamaican Diaspora groups.
It is further proposed that the money in the fund will be disbursed to candidates within 180 days following an election by way of reimbursement of expenses incurred by those candidates in their election campaigns.
Additionally, the money is to be held in the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ)until it is invested or otherwise utilised.
Paulwell also said the Bill seeks to implement fundamental and far-reaching reforms to deal with the issue of how electoral campaigns are financed.
“The rationale for reforming campaign finance is the recognition of the need to bolster the transparency and accountability of elected officials and reduce corruption and improper influence in public life, thereby encouraging greater confidence in our political process.”
Paulwell further noted that the amendments to the Representation of the People Act represent “a historic and indeed timely development.”
Other changes that have been proposed under the Bill deal with sources of contributions; permissible and impermissible donors; and spending limits, among others.
The Bill seeks to implement recommendations set out in the report on campaign financing prepared by the EOJ.