Portmore as a parish to have at least three constituencies

RESIDENTS of Portmore are likely to end up with at least three political constituencies, whenever the community emerges as Jamaica’s 15th parish.

This was indicated by Dr Andrew Wheatley, chairman of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament, as it wound up discussions on its report on the proposal made by the Government last September, to transform the once dormitory community of over 300,000 into the country’s 15th parish at Gordon House on Tuesday.

The need for at least two constituencies in each parish was raised at the meeting by Solicitor General Marlene Aldred, as a necessary consequential amendment to the report of the committee which should be tabled as early as next Tuesday in the House of Representatives after more than 10 months of deliberations.

Aldred noted that the second schedule of the Jamaica Constitution required that at least two constituencies have to be included in the creation of any new parish in Jamaica.

“And it does trigger a procedure under section 67 of the Constitution, and I think there should be some mention of it in the report [to Parliament], because that is something that has to happen to give the parish full legal status,” she added.

“We are going to ensure that we satisfy, in fact more than satisfy that [requirement] and have at least three constituencies in that new parish,” Dr Wheatley responded.

Wheatley has also accepted that there is a need for a parish capital to be named. However, it has been accepted by the committee, that while the report has focused on the boundaries of the new parish, there is no need to deal with that issue at this stage.

Opposition Member Fitz Jackson (St Catherine Southern), however, informed the meeting that the Opposition will be attaching a minority report to the committee’s substantive report before it is tabled in Parliament next week.

Asked by Wheatley to explain the position, Jackson said that the substantive report had arrived at certain conclusions with which the Opposition was not in agreement.

“Some of the conclusions arrived at, we don’t support at all, therefore we do not support the report in its entirety,” he explained.

Jackson also criticised the chairman for going ahead with the previous committee meeting, despite the fact that the Parliament was on its summer break.

“So I have a problem with that. I was absent because I never planned to be here during the summer break. I planned to be here after the summer break,” he said.

Wheatley had told the previous meeting, however, that the committee was going ahead with the meeting, which had been postponed initially to accommodate the Opposition members. But,went ahead after all the committee members were informed.

Summing up the committee’s performance, Wheatley said that he was pleased to complete the work, which was started last November, and that he appreciates the contribution of the committee members and the support teams, as well as all the stakeholders who had contributed to the exercise.

“I believe that we have done well. I think we just need to see how fast we can complete the work that we were assigned and move forward. I am hope the decisions we have made will be in the best interest if our country, and our people that we serve,” he said.

“I can assure you that the report will be tabled before the end of September. After doing what we had to do today, I am looking to submit it next week Tuesday to Parliament, all things being equal,” he added.

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