The issue of campaign financing is something that must be examined, the Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission John Jarvis has said, suggesting a complete overhaul of election financing laws.
Both the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth and Caricom all called for stronger campaign finance laws in their preliminary reports released in the wake of the January 18 polls, a sentiment that has been repeated by other observer missions throughout past elections in Antigua and Barbuda.
In Antigua and Barbuda and perhaps in most Caribbean islands, there seems to be a lack of strong campaign finance laws that continues to pervade the electoral process.
“The issue of campaign financing is a topical issue and will become more topical as we go along simply because we don’t have any stringent mechanisms in place to curb or have these finances reported. It begs the question at what point in time does the party begins to report its source of finances,” he told a press conference here this week.
According to laws governing the country, political parties are only required to provide details of donations given between the day the writ is issued and the day of the election.
“The yardstick that we have to go on until it is changed is at the commencement or when the writ would have been issued which is about three weeks before the elections. Three weeks is indeed totally inadequate relative to adequate reporting because most of the financing would have already been attained. This is one of the areas which we have to look at with a view towards applying more teeth to the legislations so that party can be held accountable with regards to their sources of funds so that detailed investigations can be made,” he said.
Jarvis said he hoped that once the Commission has completed its report, relevant authorities will begin discussions on legislative changes.
“Hopefully when we would have concluded and submitted our reports, someone somewhere will understand the serious nature and would want to have further discussions with a view towards ensuring that the type of discussions is done in so far as legislative reform is concerned”
“As it is presently, we are looking at a legislation which was revived in 2002 with some minor amendments…I think it’s time we have a complete overhaul”.
Is this the same Mr Jarvis who used to drove a Volkswagen back in the seventies going round picking up children who scudded class or school?? He used to bring them to school whenever he found them scudding classes.