Jamaica spent millions on Commonwealth bid

KINGSTON – The Jamaica government has confirmed that it spent an estimated J$18.2 million in the failed campaign to get Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith elected as the new Commonwealth Secretary general earlier this year.

In June, Baroness Patricia Scotland successfully retained her post as the Commonwealth Secretary General, despite a strong effort by several members of the 54-nation grouping to remove her.

The Dominica-born Scotland had faced a challenge from Johnson-Smith winning by a 27-24 margin.

If I didn’t pull through, God wasn’t ready for me to leave Jamaica yet. I continue to serve and, of course, sincere congratulations to Baroness Scotland,” Johnson Smith said following the voting in a message on her Twitter account.

In a statement late Sunday, the Office of the Prime Minister said the J$18.2 million covered expenses related to air and ground transportation, coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, meals, accommodation, and public relations and communications.

Undisclosed Jamaican private funders donated approximately $15 million for public relations and thought-leadership services from international marketing firm Finn Partners.

“Despite not having won, Jamaica garnered significant and widespread international support. The contacts made and the opportunities to share views and secure understanding on issues of common concern have served to strengthen bilateral relations and further enhance Jamaica’s reputation as a strong voice on the international stage,” the statement said.

Additionally, the government spent J$25.7 million on the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, in June.

It said that the costs for the meeting were absorbed by the Office of the Prime Minister – J$12 827 897; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade –J$7 715 585.37; and Ministry of Tourism – J$5 131 386.00.

In the statement, the Andrew Holness government said that it ran a clean, transparent, principled campaign that met the standards of accountability and that a dedicated and intensive travel schedule was pursued specifically across Africa spanning seven countries in 10 days.

It said that this was seen as critical in the campaign efforts as the continent includes 19 member countries of the Commonwealth. (CMC)


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