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11.03.2008 Politics

Say NO to state funding of political parties!

By Accra Mail
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Yesterday the front page of the state-owned Daily Graphic reported that “a proposal by the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for public funding of political parties in Ghana will be launched in Accra on Wednesday.”

We wish to call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to reject it. That, we believe is not the right way to apply taxpayer money especially in these times where life and death priorities are so cash starved.

Ironically, it is the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that hammered in the last nail in the coffin of this totally nugatory idea. We all witnessed the kind of ostentatious campaign spending displayed by the presidential aspirants of the party last year.

So vulgar was the splashing of money and resources that, even casual observers were scandalised. If there is anything to remember from the NPP presidential primaries, it would be the supremacy of cash. One aspirant even had “cash” as a sobriquet attached to his name! And now we are being told the state must add to that kind of political profligacy! NO WAY!

The NDC is reputed to have raised a war chest that would match the NPP boot for boot. Even before the Electoral Commission has opened nominations, NDC presidential candidate, Professor Atta Mills has kicked off with sleek road side signs. CPP presidential candidate Dr. Kofi Ndoum, we believe, with or without state funding has already toured the ten regions of Ghana. The PNC leader, Dr. Edward Mahama is also carrying his message to the electorate as best as he can. And we are being told the state must dole out more to them!

Our position is simple: If the state wants to promote pluralism in the democracy project, it can facilitate the work of political parties by availing them with certain services that the state controls. For example, the state can offer some free advertising in the state-owned media.

The state can offer free use of venues like the National Theatre in Accra for political conferences and congresses, accommodation for presidential candidates at regional administration residences, police protection and such things – in fact they also cost money and eventually they would have to be quantified in monetary terms for the books.

But to draw up a budget from taxpayer funds and dole out cash to political parties, we believe is unacceptable. Where would we draw the line? The constitution does not discriminate between political parties that have representation in parliament and those that do not, which means what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander!

By the way, where would such funds come from? Are we going to be taxed more or are we going to resort to the usual grants and aid from our already overstretched development partners? Either way, that would not be judicious use of taxpayer money.

This whole idea of state funding of political parties is just another ruse of adding to our already bloated public sector expenditure. Let those people who want to do politics first find themselves some decent work, from where they can understand the pains and challenges of running a business or balancing a private budget and they would begin to understand that running a political party is not a cocoa party or an omo tuo and beer affair!

We call on Ghanaians to reject the state funding of parties! The money that would be put there can be put to better use in our schools, hospitals, farms and infrastructure.

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