Limit on Campaign Spending Can Eliminate Undue Influence – Simpson


Assistant Director of Elections, Earl Simpson, has said that public financing of political parties and putting a limit on how much a candidate can spend on campaigning, can reduce or eliminate undue influence by private persons who fund political parties.
Addressing a public forum on July 24 at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), to discuss campaign financing, he noted that for candidates to retain or gain political office, it takes a lot of funds, and regulations need to be effected to curb and limit spending.
“The need to consider public financing of political parties arose out of a fear that undue influence can be exerted by private individuals after they would have financed a winning party. Political parties have, over the years, raised funds on their own and will continue to do so in the future, but financing of parties through the public purse can significantly reduce or eliminate the possibilities of material benefits being given to financers,” Mr. Simpson said.
“If we fail to agree on public financing, the issue can be addressed by regulations that include provisions for a limit on spending and disclosure of funds received,” he argued. Meanwhile, independent member of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Herbert Thompson said that under the proposed new system, all candidates contesting elections would have to be registered with the Commission, and a pool of funds would be established where persons wishing to make financial contributions to elections, could do so through the electoral body.
“Part of what is going to be necessary is for television stations to keep a log on ads that they run for political parties. An account must be kept and reports made to the Commission as to the cost of them and how many are aired on a daily basis. We will see all candidates registering with the Commission before they take on political work in the constituency; they would have to make declarations of any group that is set up to aid their campaign; and any organization that receive or make payment over $25,000 must be declared,” Dr. Thompson said.
“The pool of funds will be distributed to candidates and political parties, based on the percentage of votes received in the previous elections,” he added. A limit of $5 million is recommended for each candidate contesting a general election.
Persons attending the forum were mainly young people representing youth groups, who made various suggestions on ways to deal with the financing of political parties.

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