National Federation Party - Fiji
Who is the authority?
April 28, 2022
Laws on funding election promises are ridiculous
Who is the authority?
“Who is the independent authority to scrutinise financial commitments of promises made by political parties and candidates that is now a requirement under the electoral and financial management laws?”
This is the question raised by National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad following the inclusion of the laws on the need for political parties and candidates to show how they will fund election promises made during the campaign period.
This is part of the Candidates Handbook released this week by the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office.
Professor Prasad while the laws require candidates and political parties to make financial disclosures similar to a Budget, they do not specify who will scrutinise the disclosures.
“Will it be the Supervisor of Elections? 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 of making several items VAT-free but welcomed it when the Fiji First government, in what was the dumbest copy and paste job, adopted most of our list of basic food and essential items and zero-rated them?”
“There is no institution similar to the Budget Office in Australia to provide independent and non-partisan analysis and scrutiny”.
The NFP’s General Secretary Seni Nabou had written to the Supervisor of Elections on 25th March this year seeking clarification on this issue”.
“The Supervisor of Elections in his response on 28th March said the Fijian Elections Office had no authority to create template manifestos or set out guidelines for manifestos”.
“The Supervisor said political parties at liberty in the matter”.
“This basically shows the state of confusion in the interpretation and implementation of this aspect of the law in terms of proving how promises and commitments will be financed”.
“Parties are required to furnish detailed information on how we will fund our promises despite not knowing the real picture of the economy or the treasury because this government is an expert in cooking statistics”.
“And failure to do so can result in a candidate being prosecuted, fined up to $50,000 or face imprisonment for 10 years or both”.
“These kind of laws makes the campaign platform an Animal Farm”.
Professor Biman Prasad