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Monday, October 26, 2009
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EC wants state to fund parties

Plans to talk with parties in effort to ensure transparency

The Election Commission (EC) will hold talks with the political parties to raise their political funds with the government contribution to bring transparency in their income and expenditure, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said yesterday.

“State funding, to a certain extent, will bring control over the political parties,” the poll chief said while speaking at a discussion on “Transparency in political funding: challenges and ways to overcome” organised by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) at Brac Centre Inn.

The political parties, however, might not accept too much control over them what we realised after holding a series of meeting with them, CEC Huda said referring to the electoral reform talks with the parties before the ninth parliamentary election.

TIB proposed the introduction of state funding system, as EC has no strong mechanism to ensure transparency in the funding of political parties.

Participants at the discussion seconded the TIB proposal and observed that it is difficult to ensure transparency in fund collection and expenditure of political parties without introducing state funding system.

They said transparency in political funding must be ensured to free politics from the influence of black money.

On political funding, TIB said Bangladesh scored 4.5 out of 10 in the index of transparency of political funding, which is considered to be medium level. The score of Indonesia is 3.7 and Nepal 2.8.

Speaking on transparency in the sector, CEC Huda said the EC also wants to introduce projection meetings, television debates and campaign for candidates through posters in the next parliamentary election.

“We want to do it in consultation with the political parties,” Huda said.

He also said the EC will send a set of proposals for electoral reforms to the prime minister including the one for introduction of proportional representation system as some of the political parties earlier raised the issue during the electoral reform talks.

In its research paper, the TIB said political parties do not properly maintain their accounts of collection and expenditure.

“Most of the donations are not made through banks and the money is not deposited in the party accounts. In some cases donation is received by cheques but the money is deposited in the accounts of senior party leaders,” the TIB research paper said.

The research paper was prepared on the basis of information gathered from different sources including interviews of six lawmakers belonging to different political parties.

On election expenditure reports submitted by the political parties and candidates, TIB said the reports are not reliable, as the statements don't include detailed description of the money collected and spent during the election.

TIB proposed appointing auditors to scrutinise the accounts of the political parties.

Participating in the discussion Prof Moniruzzaman Mia, a former commissioner of Anti-corruption Commission (ACC), said the EC has legal authority but it did not exercise the power.

“Not performing duties is also a kind of corruption,” he said. Political parties have to be bound to disclose the donations they receive once state funding is introduced.

Political analyst Prof Dilara Chowdhury said main objectives of democracy had disappeared due to influence of black money in politics.

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Can it assure the public that the money will be used for the benefit of the general mass? I want to propose to EC on thing: the nomination has to be sought from the constituency where the candidate is a voter. The voters of the same consituency/locality know the individual candidate not the voters of any other constituency. And another thing; no defeated candidate should be allowed to become a candidate in any bi-election. If EC wants to bring the honest and active people to JS, there is no other way to do it. Please think.

: Mohamed S Rahman

This should be in line with prohibiting candidates to spend more than the fixed ceiling. Also, additional spending should be from declared earnings. Parties should be held accountable for submitting annual financial statements.

: Zack

Comments

  • sarwar
    Monday, October 26, 2009 01:24 PM GMT+06:00 (249 weeks ago)

    Why should he talk on behalf of the political parties of their concern? Should'nt he consider issues / concerns that would strengthen the EC legally and ensure that people get a real powerful EC in every sense.

    Sarwar, Riyadh

  • M. M. Rahman
    Monday, October 26, 2009 02:53 PM GMT+06:00 (249 weeks ago)

    It cannot be gathered from the report whether government contribution to the funding of political parties is practised in other countries, particularly in those developing countries which have developed an admirable legacy of democratic practices over the last sixty years or so, since gaining independence. India ,Sri Lanka and Malaysia come to my mind in this respect. If it is so in those countries, we may follow their example. Otherwise, we should be very careful in experimenting with something unusual. This is because our political parties have such poor image in the minds of conscious citizens of this country.

  • Sirajul Islam
    Monday, October 26, 2009 02:53 PM GMT+06:00 (249 weeks ago)

    A difficult question of funding political parties from the state coffer has been launched by TIB, backed by its research, and perhaps seconded by our Election Commission, for discussion. Actually, it's a dilemma that goes beyond Bangladesh. In the absence of mass membership contribution, many political parties, or politicians, rely on private donations to support their activities. But private donations, mostly corporate giving, are often determined by allegation of influence-peddling. So, making a case for public funding of political parties to keep them honest is an option, but isn't easy. It could be a doubled-edged sword, while public money going to the parties but they can't be made accountable.


 

 


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