Wed | Aug 10, 2022

PNP opens up membership to diaspora

Calls for full disclosure on Johnson Smith’s failed Commonwealth bid

Published:Monday | June 27, 2022 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

Jamaicans domiciled abroad will soon get the chance to become members of the People’s National Party (PNP) as the organisation bids to expand its footprint with a beefed-up registration drive.

That decision was ratified during Sunday’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at Iona High School in Tower Isle, St Mary.

President of the PNP, Mark Golding, said the party has agreed to the move in principle and would fine-tune the details in short order.

Currently, enrolment on Jamaica’s voters’ list was the principal requirement for PNP membership.

The decision by the PNP comes just over a week after the ninth biennial Diaspora Conference ended in Montego Bay, where the urgency in deepening relations between the diaspora and Jamaica was highlighted.

Responding to Gleaner questions, Golding said expatriates have much to offer to the development of Jamaica beyond remittances, which accounts for inflows of more than US$3 billion annually.

Golding, who is also the opposition leader, said the PNP hopes to tap long-standing affiliates in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, including the Jamaica Progressive League, which predates the party.

“We have many supporters over there, and we would like to engage more meaningfully with them, and one of the things they have expressed is a desire to be able to become members of our party,” said the PNP president.

Golding said the party would be working out the parameters and doing due diligence on applicants. It will also assess the rights of the new members.

“But the principle of membership has been established today at this NEC, and I’m very pleased about that. I think it’s timely,” he added.

Golding spoke of the importance of the diaspora to the island’s development.

“We get so much support from our diaspora, and I’m not just talking about financial support, as important as that is, but all forms of other support,” the party president said.

“There’s a tremendous reservoir of capabilities to help develop the country and help to solve the problems that the country faces, so engaging with them is a very important aspect of what we’re about now.”

Golding reiterated his call for an enquiry into the spending surrounding Kamina Johnson’s failed bid to become Commonwealth secretary general, describing her run as ill-conceived.

“It cost the country significant resources because they put money behind this. What I regard as a misguided attempt, to have Kamina elected as secretary general of the Commonwealth, misguided because she was going up against a Caribbean candidate who had not yet served her conventional two terms and where CARICOM itself was largely supportive of the incumbent Baroness Scotland with a few countries not doing so,” Golding said.

“That was not a context in which Jamaica should have run into a contest to try and unseat the existing secretary general, and they’ve lost.”

Golding said that while the margin of victory – 27 to 24 – appeared narrow, the Dominica-born Scotland prevailed by a single vote when she was originally elected in 2016.

“So she’s tripled her lead. So we want to know how that money was spent, how much was spent, and what the sources of finding were. The country is owed that explanation,” he said.

carl.gilchrist@gleanerjm.com