Transparency question in parties’ finances

With single leader spending millions during elections, civil society leaders wonder if the parties’ reports are close to reality

Sep 2, 2017-The CPN-UML tops the list of political parties in the income for the fiscal year 2016-17 with earnings of Rs64.67 million, followed by Rs33.4 million of the CPN (Maoist Centre) and Rs30.76 million of the Nepali Congress, according to audit reports.

The three parties, along with 92 others willing to contest the upcoming provincial and federal parliamentary elections, have submitted their audit reports to the Election Commission.

With an expenditure of Rs55.2 million, the UML’s balance sheet remained positive last fiscal. The situation is not rosy for the NC which spent more than it earned.

The NC’s expenditure in the last fiscal year stood at Rs50.85 million, leaving its balance sheet in the red zone. The Maoist Centre’s expenditure in the last fiscal stood at Rs32.7 million, which shows a healthy balance sheet.

With a single party leader spending millions of rupees during elections, civil society leaders wonder whether the reports submitted by the parties are close to reality.

“How can we trust audit reports of parties when their leaders are spending millions for election campaign whose record is not clearly presented,” asked Shree Hari Aryal, president of the Transparency International Nepal.

According to him, most of the big deals that take place in exchange for future benefits to interest groups or policy level corruption are hardly reported.

Major parties said the main source of their income is levy paid by cadres, lawmakers and ministers. For example, the UML said it earned Rs52.8million, 82 percent of the total income, from levies. UML Deputy General Secretary Ghanashyam Bhusal said the party systematically manages levies from cadres and lawmakers.

Maoist Centre Treasurer Haribol Gajurel said his party collects Rs12,000 a month from every lawmaker while the cadres are also pay levies.

The NC gets contributions from some 500,000 cadres. According to Krishna Poudel, chief secretary of the party, the NC’s costs are paid by interests on the party’s bank balance of Rs50 million despite having a negative balance sheet.

According to Clause 38 of the Political Parties Act, the parties are required to use the banking channel to receive donations amounting more than Rs25,000. Parties admit that the practice has not been fully implemented. TI Nepal’s Aryal says big donations directly reach the top leadership or influential leaders while the banking procedure is hardly followed.

Published: 02-09-2017 06:40

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