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Mixed views from commentators on Johnson Smith's Commonwealth campaign financing

Political commentator Damion Gordon says it is not surprising that the majority of Jamaicans are unhappy about the money spent to fund the campaign for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General considering the social and economic issues in the country.

Mr. Gordon says Kamina Johnson Smith's loss to the incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland made it even harder for Jamaicans to see it as essential expenditure.

The Office of the Prime Minister revealed that the campaign cost the government $18.2 million.

In the latest RJRGLEANER Don Anderson poll, 42 per cent of Jamaicans believed it was not money well spent.

Eleven per cent of Jamaicans polled said the money the government contributed to the campaign was well spent while another 47 per cent were unsure.

Speaking Tuesday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, Mr. Gordon said Mrs. Johnson Smith's campaign should have either been self-financed or donor-funded and the information disclosed. 

He argued that with Jamaica being a poor country, the public expects that the "limited resources should be spent taking care of the bread and butter and the priority issues of people who are suffering and who are facing various kinds of challenges". 

He suggested Mrs Johnson Smith would have been better served had her campaign been financed "either directly by the Jamaica Labour Party or self-financed through fund raising initiatives". 

But even if the campaign was solely funded privately, Mr. Gordon believes the public would still "need to know exactly who were the financiers of her campaign in the interest of transparency and openness". 

Apart from the $18.2 million spent by the government, Mrs. Johnson Smith's campaign also received funds from corporate Jamaica. 

The government has said it would be "highly inappropriate" to disclose the spend of the private entities as it was not party to those arrangements. 

Mr. Gordon also does not believe Mrs Johnson Smith did a good job in explaining the benefits of serving as Commonwealth Secretary General or how the post could serve the interest of Jamaicans. 

'Miopic thinking' 

However, political commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang shares a different view and has scoffed at suggestions that Mrs Johnson Smith's bid for the Commonwealth Secretary General position was for personal ambition.

Mr. O'Brien Chang contended that it is "incredibly miopic thinking" to believe that a Jamaican being in charge of one of the world's largest organisations would not be a benefit to Jamaica.

He said such a position would give Mrs Johnson Smith prominence on the world stage but also allow her to "channel resources or training to our side". 

The commentator also suggested that Jamaicans should appreciate the fact that the government disclosed how much was spent on the campaign. 

"Every country in the world puts up candidates for these positions. They fund them to the extent they think it's worth it. We are lucky in Jamaica we got to see the full figures that were spent. You think... you'll ever see those figures for [Baroness Scotland] or the African candidates coming up? I'll bet you any money, you'll never see those figures," he asserted.  

Mr. O'Brien Chang was also speaking on the Morning Agenda on Power 106.