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James: PNM, People’s Partnership guilty
Political analyst Dr Winford James says in a democracy as ours, one must not rely, but expect governments to do the right thing. While the Government might have a proposal, James said, the population had to push for what was right. He tipped his hat to TTTI, urging them to study legislation outside of T&T and tailor it to their needs.
“From the beginning, the Government should have drafted party financing legislation, as well as procurement legislation. We don’t know if they are on the agenda.” James said several contracts had been given out since the PP came into power.
“And they do it not through Cabinet, but through state boards. Chairmen take orders behind the scene. And they can do it because nothing stops them. That is not fair for democracy, especially a fledgling one like ours. What that does, it promotes corruption. This has nothing to do with one government. The PNM government did the same thing...only thing is that this Government is more guilty.
“If we are talking transparency, the PNM should let their records be examined by independent people and declare where every dollar came from, so we would know.” James explained that the corruption comes in the form of inflated contract fees, which are taxpayers’ money.
“It is we who are paying for it, so the contractor does not lose. If he is going to be selected, the inflated fees are already built into that contract...hidden in various ways. Money that should have been used in developmental purpose goes elsewhere.
“Corruption, of course, cannot help our people. We don’t want a culture of corruption to take root, but some of us get entangled in it. They are going to see they are feeding at the national trough.”
James said money that could be put into a safety net was going into the pockets of private people and parties. Contractors would demand what they want from the winning party, he said, while the victorious party would be assured money from its financier for the next election campaign.
He said all parties need to be completely transparent with its finances and certain principles must prevail in the award of contracts. “There must be no bias.”
Campaign financing legislation
USA campaign $$ has shaken public confidence
The USA presidential election last November broke new records in financing and fundraising, with President Barack Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney raising more than US$2 billion combined. US laws limit the amount of contributions to candidates, political parties, or other groups like political action committees (PACs).
A person can give US$2,500 directly to a congressional candidate, US$30,800 to a political party, and US$5,000 to a political party, and US$5,000 to a PAC. Weeks before the election, the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, headed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, in a report identified a rise in “uncontrolled, undisclosed, illegal and opaque” political finance across the world as a key threat to electoral integrity.
The report stated that US campaign finance rules, which allowed wealthy individuals to pour millions of dollars into the 2012 presidential election, had shaken public confidence in the political process.
Jamaica’s campaign finance bill doomed
A January 24, 2012, report in the Gleaner said Jamaica’s campaign financing bill was doomed, since proposed legislation would not be tabled in the House of Representatives this year, but in 2014. As it stands in Jamaica, political parties get funding from taxpayers through waivers on vehicles to be used during the general election campaign.
Canada bans candidates from accepting gifts
In 2006, the new Conservative government of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper passed the Federal Accountability Act, instituting a number of significant reforms to the operation of government and the conduct of political officials.
With regard to campaign finance, the act set out new rules for political donations, a ban on candidates accepting gifts that might be seen as influencing them, and a ban on transferring trust-fund money to candidates or political parties.
United Kingdom limits political parties expenditure
Legislation to prevent excessive spending by electoral candidates in the United Kingdom has been in place since 1883. The UK’s system of regulating campaign financing focuses on limiting the expenditure of political parties and individual candidates, rather than limits on donations that can be received by these parties and individuals, combined with a transparent reporting system of donations received and expenditure incurred.
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