THE Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) last night remained mum on whether the public session of its 78th annual conference will be held this Sunday even as conflicting reports swirled inside and outside the party about the event.
“We will answer those questions tomorrow (today) at 10:00 am,” Deputy General Secretary of the party Julian Robinson told the Jamaica Observer when contacted. At the same time, General Secretary Paul Burke confirmed that Friday’s private session has been cancelled.
A well-placed source inside the party insisted, however, that the leadership of the party on Monday night took a decision to cancel the public session.
“Friday would have been a private session, then the elections on Saturday, and the public session on Sunday. But instead of that they are now going to just have the election on Saturday and a private session on Sunday,” the source said.
“Tradition is that when the party has money or when the agenda is long there is a launch on the Thursday evening. There’s an all-day delegates’ session Friday and Saturday and a public session Sunday. The most popular thing that has happened is an all-day delegates’ session Saturday and a public session Sunday. So it is not unprecedented for the party to just have a one-day delegates’ conference. It is because they want to have the public session when the date for the local government election is announced,” the party insider said.
The embattled party, which has been rocked by internal conflict following a shock defeat in the February 25, 2016 General Election, with the most recent quarrel stemming from a campaign financing scandal, has also asked candidates vying for the vice-presidential and presidential positions to each contribute $200,000.
“The $200,000 each candidate has been asked to contribute is for food. So instead of each candidate providing 2,000 lunches for their delegates, which would amount to 14,000 lunches, they were asked to put the money to the secretariat and the secretariat provides lunches for the delegates,” the source said.
Robinson would not confirm this, but instead pointed to a press conference called by the party at its Old Hope Road headquarters for today.
The party has been reeling from damaging allegations of misuse of campaign donations by some of its candidates in the general election.
The allegations were made by PNP Treasurer Norman Horne in his report to the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on July 23 and 24, but which only surfaced publicly last month.
In his report, Horne painted a picture of a party in campaign disarray that spilled over to its inability to raise funds for the election that it eventually lost by one seat to the Jamaica Labour Party.
Horne also told the NEC that, since the general election defeat, the PNP’s financial forecast and indicators from the testing of the donor market have gradually and consistently worsened.
“Consequently, there is a mounting objective concern that we will not be able to meet our budgetary target with regard to the local government elections,” he stated, and called on all Comrades who collected funds from private sector and others entities to make a full, transparent, and confidential accounting of all the funds received to the treasury and the officers of the party.