Political Ombudsman welcomes Prime Minister’s decision on CDF

Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown has welcomed the decision of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to put on hold the allocation of funds from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to the Portland Eastern constituency pending the outcome of the April 4 by-election. 

Prime Minister Holness announced his decision on Friday following complaints by the Parliamentary Opposition that State funds were being used to influence the outcome of  the election.

The Political Ombudsman believes other projects should cease in the constituency until the election is held.

“Well I believe that it would be unusual for the Constituency Development Fund to be going on at a time when there is no Member of Parliament.  I’m not sure who makes decisions about the fund . In relation to any other entity, such as TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company), I believe that as a state agency, it would want to be careful about providing funds ...”

 Meanwhile, the Political Ombudsman says she has not yet received an official response from the Prime Minister about concerns raised by her about projects being carried out in the Portland Eastern constituency.

“I have not yet received written communication from the Prime minister. Subsequent to my letter with him I had a meeting which included the general secretary of the JLP, and we discussed some of the matters from a previous meeting ,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has continued to speak out against some of the pronouncements of the Office of Political Ombudsman.

The report from the office last week said a contractor was conducting projects in Portland Eastern on public roads as a contribution to Ann-Marie Vaz's campaign without receiving any permit or contract from the Municipal Corporation, the TPDCo. or the National Works Agency.

Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie says it is not unusual for residents to fix road in this manner.

“Many communities in this country, when the road is bad, community members come together to patch the road. What is wrong if somebody does what the PNP should do... I am asking the ombudsman not to ask the party about the assistance that is being given. Ask the people from East Portland about how they feel about seeing their road repaired,” the Local Government Minister said.

Campaigning underway

Officials of the main two political parties are continuing their campaigning in the Portland Eastern constituency ahead of the April 4 by-election.

 Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips who toured the constituency yesterday said the party is not against the constituents getting good roads and improved infrastructure, but is concerned the government is seeking to influence the vote with such projects at this time.

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