KINGSTON, Jamaica: Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie on Tuesday piloted a Bill in the Houses of Representatives effectively postponing Local Government Elections until February 2024.
The Bill entitled Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act, 2023. Last February, the House passed an amendment Act to temporarily modify the Representation of the People Act to push back the polls until February 28, 2023.
Minister McKenzie told his colleague Parliamentarians that Jamaica’s delicate post-Covid 19 recovery is foremost for the Government.
“We are in a better position than last year but we are not out of the woods yet. On the economic front, The Government is sharply focused on two main things. One, building of national resilience against further economic shocks whether caused by man-made or natural factors,” he explained.
“Two, the expansion and sustenance of economic growth that all our citizens can feel and see at a personal level.”
He underscored that holding the polls at this time risks diverting the country from these two vital tasks. The Minister also noted that the postponement will facilitate the conclusion of public consultation concerning draft legislation that will establish Portmore as Jamaica’s 15th parish.
“The legislation will among other things set Portmore’s parish boundaries, and will therefore be inseparable from the process of holding the next Local Government Elections. It means that for the first time since the practice of Universal Adult Suffrage in Jamaica, the residents of fifteen parishes will elect their local government representatives. We look forward to the historic experience of inviting the people of the parish of Portmore to go to the polls.”
Minister McKenzie maintained that the decision to seek this postponement was not hasty.
He added: “The Government of Jamaica cherishes its democratic credentials, and will do nothing to undermine the primary expression of a democratic society – the right to vote. As the Minister responsible for Local Government, I wish to assure the House and the country that we are still committed to having the next Local Government Elections, in the shortest practicable time”.