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23.12.2003 General News

State Funding of Political Parties: Vital for democratic governance

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Accra, Dec. 23, GNA - Mr Kwame Pianim Chairman of the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) on Tuesday gave the debate of the funding of political parties a new impetus saying, "it was of immense importance for the survival of the country's democratic process." "This is because the main agents for keeping pluralism buoyant and keeping people hopeful and committed to democratic culture of patience and tolerance are political parties...they are the safety valves that prevent the heat and ugly noises of politics from exploding into violence and anarchy," he said.

He said funding the management of tensions that are a natural part of living together in societies is a lesser evil than the alternatives, adding that the electoral machinery needs to funded to remove the perception that voting might be a useless exercise. Mr Pianim stated this at the launching of the report of Consultative Fora on Financing Political Parties and the Electoral Process in Accra.

The report was a collaborative work by the Electoral Commission (EC), KAB Governance Consult (KGC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

He emphasised the necessity for assisting political parties to mobilise adequately to articulate and inform the people with a view to assisting shape the political will of the electorate.

"We all need an electoral process in which we have confidence so that outcomes of periodic elections do not result in occasional internecine strife, we need a process that entrenches head counting and not head cutting as the preferred method of political change."

Mr Pianim urged the Government to muster the political courage and to have the long-term interest of the nation at heart to package a suitable formula for organising public sector funding of political parties and adequate and sustainable funding of the electoral process. "We need to have a system that would make our development partners that are interested in the deepening and entrenchment of the democratisation process to contribute to a national pool of resources that can be independently managed and allocated to parties on various agreed criteria.

He also urged corporate organisations to contribute to a national pool for funding the political process since all benefit from the peace that emanates from successful politics and good governance.

The 37-page report was based on series of consultative fora on financing political parties and the electoral process held throughout the country from July 2nd to August 28th 2003.

The fora was organised with the view to making recommendations to Government on how to improve the financing of parties in particular and the electoral process.

The report torches on the historical perspective, the status quo on state funding of political parties, general remarks of participants, addresses by government and other political stakeholders, and challenges of public funding of political parties.

Other areas were challenges of management of the fund, source of funds, priority areas for funding, electoral expenses, foreign and corporate assistance and the challenges of financing elections in Ghana. The rest were the perspective of development partner's, the Electoral Commission, and Government.

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