By Latoya Giles
Even though the National Assembly in September of 2011 has passed a motion on “Campaign Financing” Political Parties across the board seem not to have a general disposition towards supporting the legislation. This is according to Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner Charles Corbin.
“Campaign finance” refers to all funds raised in order to promote candidates, political parties, or policies in elections, referendums, initiatives, party activities, and party organizations.
Corbin who attended a two day workshop on Local Government Elections, hosted by the Canadian High Commission and the Guyana Press Association said that they have had several discussions with the Organization of American States (OAS) within the region on the issue.
Corbin told Kaieteur News that from the point of view of GECOM it would be useful if they could be able to pursue and set up the framework thus allowing them to monitor that aspect.
He said however that the outcome of the process of monitoring the ultimate achievement is the goal of ensuring that the electorate is not influenced by someone who provides the resources.
“The feed-back we get from those discussions in the region gives us the indication that the legislators (In Guyana) at the moment seem not to have a general disposition towards supporting legislations that would place limits around contributions” Corbin posited.
He explained that the areas of focus would be the quantum of contributions. Corbin explained that this would give the general public an idea of how funds is been given to a particular party. Further Corbin told Kaieteur News that the legislation also looks at the “contributor” the person or entity that is making the contribution.
I think it’s a good thing and allow the public to see who is supporting, the candidates and what sorts of resources are being presented. Now I suppose that each legislator may have a view why they wouldn’t want to support and they may vary.
However Corbin said that he legislators across the board don’t seem to have the disposition of supporting this, which is the general feeling GECOM has. He said that this may not be the truth, but that is the feedback they have received.
So far Corbin said that the feedback that he has gotten from many of the current contributors is that they would prefer not to make known their allegiance. He said that some prefer to see a good process, while others contribute to both sides equally. They are the few too who he said that are contributors who want to see a particular change but don’t want the association.
Another issue which has discussed too is the issue of persons who give money from the proceeds of crime.
According to Corbin if the Anti Money Laundering Bill is sought after more vigorously from an enforcement standpoint they wouldn’t only be looking at the campaign legislation. Corbin told Kaieteur News that it would in fact be addressed holistically.
Back in 2009 the OAS had announced that it had started work on comprehensive political party and campaign finance reform in the region towards instituting a key recommendation of its electoral observation missions.
It was noted that the main purpose of the project initiative was to contribute to increase transparency, to strengthen the integrity of political party and electoral finance in the Caribbean and to establish sustainable mechanisms for the regulation of political party and campaign financing in that region.
The OAS had stated that it intended to make the working paper public and that the paper would call for specific requirements for political party registration, increased disclosure and strengthened enforcement.
The paper and the model legislation will be presented and discussed in a series of meetings throughout the Caribbean scheduled during this year, the OAS added. However Corbin said that at a recent OAS conference last year, the general disposition was not there for the support of the legislation.
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