General News Wed, 12 Mar 2008

Use 2.5% of national revenue to fund political parties - IEA

Accra, March 12, GNA - The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in collaboration with New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), People's National Convention (PNC) and the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) on Wednesday recommended the use of 2.5 per cent of total national tax revenue to fund political parties. The bodies also proposed the establishment of political party's fund into which other moneys appropriated by parliament, grants, donations, gifts, devises and other voluntary contributions would be lodged.

Brigadier-General Francis Agyemfra (rtd), IEA Senior Fellow, stated at the official launch of the draft bill in Accra by IEA and the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP). The bill highlights on establishment of Board of the Political Parties Fund composed of representatives of the political parties to be responsible for policy issues, while the Electoral Commission would be responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the fund.

Both bills were then subjected to stakeholder consultations involving all registered political parties, the Electoral Commission, (EC) National Commission on Civic Education, the CHRAJ and Women and Youth groups during which views solicited were incorporated into them. The proposed public funding of political parties bill sought to establish a tax free political parties fund derived from the total tax revenue of the country (2 % annually) to be administered by the EC. The fund would also establish a monetary incentive for political parties to field more women candidates in elections. The proposed political parties bill sought to curtail the powers of the EC in relation to issuance of final registration certificates to parties and vest them in the High Court.

The proposed bill also sought to reduce the EC's supervisory powers in relation to financial responsibility of parties. It have received endorsement from all the major political parties in the country and it was expected that IPAC would team up with the IEA to sponsor memoranda on them to Attorney General for consideration. Brig-Gen Agyemfra noted that even though political parties are the heart and soul of a democracy, they are among the most neglected of the political institutions of state. They are made to operate as if they are purely private organizations with no state or national interest in their establishment, maintenance, well-being and extinction. He said: "by their nature poorly established and maintained political parties produce poor quality leadership, both at the party level and at the government level.

For these reason, Brig-Gen Agyemfra said it is important to ensure that political parties are not just electoral machines for achieving electoral victories but also function effectively as vehicles for public education, leadership training, national integration and skills acquisition during inter-election years.

He said if political parties are to play their roles effectively in Ghana's multi-party democracy, then the question of their funding must be of concern to the state.

Mr Peter Mac Manu National Chairman of NPP noted that the public funding of political parties would ensure that they become effective in their operations.

Mr Enoch T. Mensah, NDC National Vice Chairman, emphasised the need for the State to fund political parties to discharge their democratic functions.

The Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, launched the two publications: "Proposed Draft Public Funding of Political Parties, 2008," and "Proposed Draft Political Parties Bill, 2008."

Source: GNA