11.03.2005 Politics

Political parties consolidated fund advocated

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Accra, March 11, GNA- The Center for Democratic Development (CDD), a non-governmental organization (NGO) with focus on governance, has drafted a policy document on political party financing that recommends the establishment of Political Parties Consolidated Fund.

The document expects the State to play a lead role in providing seed money and annual budgetary support to the Fund Professor Cyril Daddieh, Visiting Fellow, CDD-Ghana, gave an overview of the draft document, which was a follow-up to a national survey at workshop in Accra.

He said the amount of budgetary support was to be determined by an Act of parliament while donations from individuals, organisations and foreign sources would go into the Fund. The document covered, Summary of Findings, Broad Policy Guidelines and Policy Options.

Prof. Daddieh said the Fund had the advantage of legal cover and a guaranteed support for political parties rather than the current practices, which rely on the indulgence or good will of government. Parties are to disclose publicly all sources of income and expenditure on regular basis to promote transparency and accountability in party business.

The Electoral Commission (EC) shall be designated as the management agency of the fund.

Touching on the survey, Prof. Daddieh said 87 per cent of the respondents were in favour of the strengthening of the political parties in other to perform their functions effectively.

"An even higher proportion (70 per cent) recognizes that political parties would perform their roles more effectively if they were well resourced, Prof. Daddieh said.

" The research has also revealed that public support for state funding of political parties in Ghana is not very strong." Prof. Daddieh said the broad policy guidelines in the draft document expressed the need for the political parties to promote equal access to resources and adhere to the codes of conduct and ethics, particularly during election campaigns.

The parties need to cooperate with the EC to enable it to review and publish their audited accounts.

Prof Daddieh said rightly or wrongly, 80 per cent of the public holds strong perceptions of high levels of corruption and low levels of transparency and accountability amongst the political parties. He explained: " The number one reason cited for donating to parties is for the individual to gain personal favours, kickbacks, win contracts and gain political appointments."

Dr Daddieh said 62 per cent of the respondents believe that donations made by people have some effect or influence on political decisions and on public policy.

Dr Joe Abbey, Executive Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis said the Fund should be run on clear case of eligibility. He said political parties that generate enough information and inspired quality debate on national issues should assess the fund and not those who go to sleep after every General Election.

Dr Abbey said there was strong public perception about corruption among the political parties thus undermining the confidence of most Ghanaians about the proper utilisation of the Fund to achieve the set objectives of deepening the democratic process.

Nii Osah Mills of the Ghana Bar Association who gave the legal implications of the Fund suggested the need for the Auditor General's Department to carry out unannounced auditing of the accounts of the political parties.

He said declaration of returns from the political parties should be widely publicised.

Dr Baffour Agyeman-Duah, Associate Executive Director of CDD said the Fund would encourage the smaller parties to have a stake in the country's democratic process instead of a one party dominance of the political scene, which is at variance with the Constitution. "For multi-party politics to thrive we need a number of viable political parties," he said.

He said funding of political parties was an initiative of the Africa Political Party Finance Initiative, an NGO that initiated a study on "Money in Politics" in Ghana, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa.

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