Ahead of the East Portland by-election, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has issued a reminder that candidates for parliamentary elections are now required to declare the source of their funding.
The requirement is a first in Jamaica’s history and forms part of the country’s campaign financing laws set out in the Election Campaign Financing Regulations 2017 and the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2016.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness was last night expected to announce the date for the by-election, which will see popular People’s National Party Senator Damion Crawford going up against the Jamaica Labour Party’s Ann-Marie Vaz, wife of West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz.
The law stipulates that contributions to a political party during the period of an election campaign must not exceed $31.5 million, including donations to individual candidates, while contributions to each candidate must not exceed $1.5 million.
It permits persons, companies, and other entities, as well as Jamaican diaspora groups, to make contributions to political parties or candidates during an election.
NO ANONYMOUS DONATIONS
Conversely, it outlaws contributions from agents of the state, public bodies, as well as individuals and entities whose identities are not disclosed or whose activities are illegal.
According to the law, the campaign period begins after the date for an election is officially announced and ends 24 hours before the start of voting.
It defines a contribution as “any gift of money, gift of kind, or any benefit which can be computed in terms of money, given to a political party or candidate, for the purpose of carrying out the activities of a political party or the election of a candidate”.
Persons found guilty of making a false statement in any report, declaration, or other document required to be filed with the ECJ faces a fine of up to $3 million or 12 months in prison if they are unable to pay.