The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

PD lists proposals to cut money out of politics

Saturday, 13 April 2019, 13:04 Last update: about 11 days ago

The Partit Demokratiku has listed their proposals on how to cut money out of politics and "prevent it from continually degenerating into a business rather than a public service."

The Partit Demokratiku has said that the Constitutional Court shot down the Electoral Commission over its remit regarding party financing, showing the need for reform. They also said that companies owned by PN and PL haven't submitted audited accounts in years to the MFSA.

"Politics is not a business. We do not have to settle for begging bowl politics, where private interests take over the political direction of our country. Malta deserves better. The only way to restore politics to being a public service is by taking money out of politics by reforming the party financing laws," the PD said in a statement.

"For decades, Malta has experienced the arrogance of power by a two-party system where their political gains supersede national interests. It is evident that PL and PN do not practise what they preach and believe that their functional rights are greater than those of everyone else. In their party politics there is no accountability or transparency. The General Elections Act and the Broadcasting Authority Act are examples wherein their rights are favoured by law."

Political Party Financing

"In 2014, a first reading on Financing of Political Parties was tabled in Parliament. In July 2015 it was approved by Parliament. The objective of this Act is to regulate the way political parties are formed, how they function, are financed and how they participate in elections. Specific obligations and limits are set. Permissible spending during electoral campaigns is also dictated," the statement read,

"In October 2018, the Constitutional Court stated that the Electoral Commission had a right to investigate party wrongdoings and present a ruling, but not to impose penalties. It was ruled that the Electoral Commission cannot act as a judge, jury and executioner all in one. Since then, Parliament has revisited the General Elections Act and has amended it twice. However, there was no attempt from government to amend this Act according to the Constitutional Court's ruling."

"Moreover, both PL and PN have a number of commercial companies listed as their beneficiaries. These companies support the parties not only financially but also through coordinated and continuous propaganda campaigns which voice the parties' version of reality. It has been reported that these companies have not presented their necessary updated submissions to the MFSA, some for many years. It is a reality that funds are being directed by wealthy entities and their lobbies in an attempt to influence party behaviour whether in government or Opposition, in exchange for various forms of support."

The PD said that it is evident that both PL-PN are comfortable with the current state of affairs, as party financing  cannot be effectively monitored and regulated.

 

PD's Proposals

 Party financing law reforms

"The laws must ensure good governance and hence combat corruption. The system, as currently constituted, is open to patronage and vulnerable to abuse. Partit Demokratiku is for a financial system where political parties are funded free from private vested interests which run contrary to the public good. This can be achieved by public funding of political parties through subsidies, in the form of state aid: be it financial, human resources, technological or via tax credits for their activities."

"This must be backed by stringent checks and balances which ensure that public funds are spent wisely, fairly and cleanly. A level playing field for all registered parties is crucial, whether they are represented in Parliament or not."

 Party broadcasting

"The political scenario is one where the two major political parties have their own TV and radio stations and newspapers which, in the eyes of the Broadcasting Authority, manned by the parties themselves, all balance each other out and thus other voices are barely heard throughout the years."

Partit Demokratiku is for the establishment of a political channel, both for radio and television, to be operated by the Public Service Broadcaster under the supervision of PBS. "This will ensure each political entity is allotted a fair share of exposure, thus substituting and replacing biased and partisan political party owned media."

The party in government is supported by a political system where the separation of powers is very feeble.

"The system is conducive to partisan advantagem" the PD said. arguing that the Executive can also use unlimited public funds in its favour to advertise its performance through all sorts of news portals as well as social media and other means of marketing.

"The system is one where taxpayers are always funding the marketing campaigns of the party in government." Furthermore, when the party in government calls a general election, it has the power of incumbency, "facilitating procuring legitimate or illegitimate favours, offering promotions at the last minute and unnecessarily recruiting personnel into public service and the public sector, and fast-forwarding the approval of building permits," the statement read.

Partit Demokratiku is of the opinion that this must all change to a politically correct system by eliminating abuses of power, so that good governance prevails under the caretaker government during the election period. It is essential that: the Electoral Commission and the Broadcasting is no longer constituted simply by representatives of the two major parties; political parties are no longer financed by the interests of some private entities, and the financing of political parties arises as a result of state financing, to be funded by a punitive corporate tax; a lobbyist register be created and be made publicly available to ensure full transparency in the dealings of political parties; political parties no longer operate their own businesses or party media, which must be replaced by genuinely impartial public political radio and television where air time is allotted to them.


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