PSOJ slams Government on expected postponement of local polls Loop Jamaica

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has expressed concern about the continued delays by the Government in holding Local Government Elections.

In a statement on Wednesday, the PSOJ said it strongly believes that Local Government Elections are essential to the process of good governance and democracy in the country, and pointedly said “these elections should not be delayed any further”.

The business organisation said in 2022, the Senate approved amendments to temporarily modify the Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act to allow the Local Government Elections to be postponed for a further 12 months, with a timeline for the local polls to be held no later than February 28, 2023.

The PSOJ added that the Government stated at the time that the postponement was necessary due to the then ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and that holding an election then would put the country’s public health at risk.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate that a year later, despite all the steps (that have been) taken to bring the country back to a state of normalcy, that there is an expected postponement again by the Government,” said the PSOJ.

“We have also noted recent reports by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) that, due to budgetary constraints, it is not fully prepared to host the Local Government Elections within the stipulated timeline of February 2023.

“Further, in interviews with the media, Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Horace Chang, cited the country’s current economic challenges as a factor in the expected postponement of the elections,” added the PSOJ.

It said the situation “is both disheartening and concerning, given the importance we place on prioritising and safeguarding all aspects of our democracy.”

The PSOJ said it believes that the reasons being cited by the Government for another postponement “are an unacceptable stance to be taken on the implementation of such a core component in our democratic process.”

The business organisation said the polls “should be given utmost priority by the Government, with necessary steps taken to have them held urgently.”

In addition, it said, “the Government, having prioritised and achieved macro-economic stability with a strong economic recovery outlook, it is imperative that we complement this achievement with sound governance practices. Without proper funding of our institutions, this undermines the fundamentals of our society.”

The organisation cited that an efficient democracy depends on all stakeholders, especially elected officials, exercising a duty of care to ensure that good governance practices are maintained in the country.

“The continued delays in holding the elections are not reflective of the fundamental principles of a free and democratic society, and we call upon the Government to urgently set a proximate date for the holding of these elections and, going forward, eliminate the perennial uncertainty as to the exercise of the franchise for Local Government.”