Kathmandu (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - The Election Commission (EC) has drafted a new electoral law with a provision to grant state funds to political parties annually to aid their operations in Nepal.
The proposed Political Party Bill, according to EC officials, with an objective to make them more accountable and transparent in financial transactions, provisions annual funds for parties to support their regular activities.
EC officials hope enforcement of the proposed law will make political parties more accountable and transparent in financial matters. ¿The bill, in its final stage, will help the Commission better regulate and oversee financial transactions of political parties,¿ said Madhu Regmi, chief of the EC¿s legal division.
The EC, however, is still considering ways to allocate funds to parties. It held discussions with the parties before formulating the bill. Most political parties have suggested that the Commission allocate funds on the bases of their performance in elections and their organisational structure. Sources said the bill will propose budgets on the same ground. Smaller parties have expressed dissatisfaction at the idea.
The Commission will forward the bill to the Cabinet soon after it sets criteria for the budget. It is learnt that the EC, a constitutional body authorised to regulate political parties, devised the idea after international corruption watch dogs, including the Transparency International, termed Nepal¿s political parties as ¿most corrupt institutions¿ with their sources of income and expenditure remaining undisclosed.
Regulating constitutional bodies such as the EC will act effectively to hold political parties more accountable and transparent after implementing the proposed law, added Regmi.
However, this is not the first time that the idea to allocate state funds to parties has surfaced. In 2003, former Finance Minister Prakash Chandra Lohani proposed grants from state coffers to parties on the bases of their popularity and annual programmes. Lohani had proposed grants of 20 rupees (US$.25) per vote each party obtained in general elections.
The national budget had proposed releasing the grants two months before an election. In the budget speech, Lohani had mentioned that all the political parties enjoying state funds would be required to publish their annual income-expenditure statements and audited balance sheets to the EC.
In fiscals other than the general election year, Lohani had proposed 1 rupee per vote each party gained in the election. ¿But the plan did not materialise due to strong criticisms from the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), who called my proposal regressive,¿ said Lohani.
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