Tight campaign finance reform law is ahead.
It’s now proposed that election donations over $50,000 be publicly disclosed, donors will have to be identified—and mechanisms will be in place for coalition arrangements between or amongst political parties.
Also proposed is allowing parties to be entitled to state funding—and empowering a minister on the recommendation of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, to make regulations for the better carrying out of election law.
This was part of proposed campaign finance reform legislation presented by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in Parliament yesterday.
Rowley said it was “…an egalitarian model of campaign finance laws. The objectives of egalitarianism are political equality, lowered campaigning costs, preserving integrity and credibility of the political system.”
The bill is being referred to a Joint Select Committee for more scrutiny. Rowley said he hoped it would be dealt with as soon as possible.
United National Congress MP Ganga Singh asked the JSC’s timeline to report, since general elections are due this year. Rowley said he hoped the JSC would consult publicly and report as quickly as feasibly possible and return to Parliament. He said he knew elections are due but didn’t know this was “imminently.”
Rowley said he’d made a commitment that campaign finance reform legislation will be brought to the Parliament.
“Historically successive governments have only spoken on this issue. It brings me great satisfaction to inform that my Government, unlike any other governments before us, has the fortitude to fulfil this promise of presenting legislation to address campaign finance,” Rowley said, thanking Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and his team for the package.
Rowley said reform was an issue which the PNM followed while in opposition when the Organisation of American States had pursued it. He said the past government didn’t.
He said the bill is part of Government’s Anti-Crime Plan, is tied to the objectives of Public Procurement legislation and underscores focus on tackling “money laundering, fraud, corruption and rampant criminality.”
The simple majority bill can be passed by Government votes solely.
Rowley said current law involves antiquated provisions of the Representation of the People Act of 1967, which merely provides a simplistic framework for accountability of a candidate’s funding. “Scrutiny is on the candidate rather than the political party,” Rowley said, citing other deficiencies in current law.