Jamaica opposition shelled out more for 2011 defeat than 2007 victory

(Jamaica Gleaner) The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) doled out J$188 million more to get out the vote during its failed 2011 general election campaign, than it expended in its run to power four years earlier.

JLP Treasurer Christopher Bovell told Sunday’s annual conference that J$638 million was spent by party central on election-related expenses in 2011 when compared to J$450 million in 2007.

The report to delegates indicated that J$10 million was given to candidates for Nomination Day assistance in 2007 and that the figure was more than doubled to J$23 million in 2011.

Similarly, Bovell said the party gave its 60 parliamentary candidates J$114 million in election day assistance in 2007 when compared to J$135 million given to its 63 candidates during the 2011 elections.

The party treasurer, in pointing to the increase in election expenditure, said “the biggest areas of increases were nomination and election-day expenses, constituency assistance, and the purchase of campaign materials”.

“Our expenditure on public relations and advertising was flat. Our spending on tours and meetings was reduced by 15 per cent over 2007 election spending,” the treasurer said.

Trounced by PNP

The JLP, despite the spending, was trounced 42 seats to 21 by the People’s National Party (PNP) in the December general election, making it the first one-term government in the history of Jamaica. The JLP also suffered a two-to-one beating in local government elections held last March.

In the meantime, an audited report posted on the PNP’s website states that just over $14 million was spent on campaign-related activities.

The report, audited by the firm Strachan, Lafayette and Associates, is for the financial year ended June 2012.

Despite the table of contents pointing to details of the campaign spending, the page to which reference was made is not posted on the website.

In the meantime, the audited financials state that the party has a healthy surplus of J$16 million. On the contrary, the JLP has a deficit of J$1.2 million.

Bovell, in his report to conference, said the party continues to struggle to collect funds from its members to assist in its operations. He has hailed his former deputy, Daryl Vaz, for “his tireless efforts and commitment to this party and the treasury”.

Party donations

Bovell’s report states the party received J$545.6 million in donation and contributions in the financial year just ended when compared to $111 million the previous financial year.

In the meantime, Bovell said the five by-elections contested by the JLP due to dual-citizenship issues caused the party’s purse to bleed.

“We had to borrow funds from several individuals and companies to pay legal fees and to fund these by-elections,” Bovell said, while adding that most of those debts have been settled.

He said, however, that “there are still outstanding court cases relating to these by-elections for which will give rise to further liabilities”.

Former Prime Minister and JLP Leader Bruce Golding had said the cost being awarded against persons found to be in breach of the Constitution when they were elected to Parliament had been onerous.

“I have no quarrel with the courts, but if I have any quarrel, it is about the level of costs that are now emerging out of our court system and I want to warn, it is getting out of hand,” Golding said after JLP member Shahine Robinson was slapped with a J$20-million bill.

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