KINGSTON, Jamaica - Opposition Leader Mark Golding says the campaign for Senator Kamina Johnson Smith to be elected Commonwealth secretary general was a waste of taxpayers’ money and divided Caricom.
Claiming that a "bag of money" was spent on the campaign, Golding is calling for the government to provide an account of the total expenditure.
His comments come two days after Johnson Smith failed in her bid to unseat incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland, who polled 27 votes to beat the Jamaican who received 25 votes.
Golding, in addressing a People's National Party (PNP) divisional conference in Papine, St Andrew on Saturday, remained adamant that the Jamaican government should have ensured that Johnson Smith would have been successful in the race for Commonwealth general secretary before contesting it.
"The Government decide to divide Caricom to push up a candidate for Jamaica to contest the Caribbean candidate... How strange," Golding said amid riled up comrades who chanted in support of his claims.
"I said to myself, 'If you mek a move like that, yuh have to have di ting lock'... It nuh mek nuh sense yuh push out and yuh might lose. Yuh spend a whole bag a money - Government money, taxpayers money... I want know how (much) that is," he said.
The Opposition leader maintained that the move by the government to place a candidate against Scotland was a "misguided mistake" and a "messy one".
"... They have egg on their faces again," asserted Golding.
According to Golding, the government's focus should have been on the local economy, especially at a time when oil and gas prices are rising globally, combined with disruptions in the supply of goods.
"Comrades we are in a time when life is getting harder and harder on people. We warn them (the government) about it in the budget debate in March, [and] we gave them some suggestions.
"I told the prime minister this is going to be a rocky year coming out of two years of pandemic, and it has disrupted the international system that supplies goods and prices are rising (in) basic commodities, oil and gas," stated Golding.