The leader of the National Federation Party, Prof. Biman Prasad, questioned the identity of the independent authority that would review the financial commitments of pledges made by political parties and candidates during the campaign period.
Professor Prasad raised this issue after the inclusion of the laws on the need for political parties and candidates to show how they would finance election promises made during the campaign period, which was part of the candidates’ handbook published this week by the Electoral Commission and Fiji. Elections Office.
The Candidates Handbook states that a political party, candidate or representative making financial commitments during the campaign must provide a written explanation of how revenues for the financial commitment are to be collected, how expenses for the should be made, how expenditures should be allocated to different sectors and sector budget agencies; and if expenditure exceeds revenue, how the shortfall is to be financed.
“Which independent authority is responsible for reviewing financial commitments of pledges made by political parties and candidates, which is now a requirement under electoral and financial management laws? He asked.
Professor Prasad said that while the laws required candidates and political parties to make financial disclosures similar to a budget, they did not specify who would review the disclosures.
“Will it be the election supervisor?” “Will it be the Electoral Commission or will it be the Ministry of Economy?
“Or the Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission, which ridiculed our promises in 2018 to make several items VAT-free, but hailed it when the Government of FijiFirst, in what was the job of copy-pasting the dumber, took most of our list of staples and essential items and got them zero-rated? He said there was no institution similar to the Budget Office in Australia to provide independent, non-partisan analysis and review.
“The NFP General Secretary, Seni Nabou, had written to the Supervisor of Elections on March 25 this year asking for clarification on this matter.
“The Supervisor of Elections, in his March 28 response, said that the Fiji Electoral Office does not have the authority to create model manifestos or establish guidelines for manifestos.
“The supervisor said that the political parties were free in the matter. This basically shows the state of confusion in the interpretation and implementation of this aspect of the law in terms of evidence of how pledges and pledges will be funded.
Professor Prasad said parties were required to provide detailed information on how they would finance their pledges, even if they did not know the true state of the economy or the Treasury. “These kinds of laws turn the campaign platform into an animal farm.”
Questions sent to the Fijian Elections Office in this regard were acknowledged and they said they would respond in due course when this edition went to press last night.