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Financial sources of Georgian political parties scrutinised

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, June 29
The presentation of the research findings on the financing of political parties for the period of 2008-2010 was held at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel on June 28. The research was conducted by Transparency International Georgia with the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation. The research report covers issues related to the transparency of funding of political parties and their accountability. The report analyses the annual incomes and inspects those political parties that overcame the election barrier and obtained mandates as a result of the May 30, 2010 elections.

The research findings have made it clear that legislation on funding political parties should be improved in Georgia. There is no agency to check for compliance with law with respect to financing political parties; the competent authority to check financial declarations published by parties on an annual basis is not defined; a unified financial reporting form for the parties is not available; parties are not required to present primary financial documents upon reporting; no measures are applied against inaccurate financial reports submitted by the parties.

“The distribution of finances between political parties and financing sources raises interest. Most opposition parties, with just a few exceptions, are financed by individuals, while the ruling party and its candidates as a rule are funded by business companies, “stated the representatives of Transparency International.

As the research found out “the funding of the ruling party was at least seven times and at most 26 times larger than the combined funding of all other electoral subjects. At the same time, legal entitles rarely fund opposition parties, if at all, while the majority of those financing the ruling party were legal entitles. The ruling party spent a large part of its funding on TV advertisement, while opposition parties spent it on printed campaign.” As for the problems regarding the voters’ lists, it was shown the parties did not have enough time or money to check the lists properly. Herewith, the parties were not fully prepared to develop effective monitoring methodologies and cooperation of the parties was not there.

As for the recommendations, one of the main points of the recommendations was related with establishing of a special independent body, “which would be responsible for conducting comprehensive reviews of the regular and election campaign funding of political parties. It would be advisable to have a legal norm whereby financing information would be gathered at the body responsible for the party financing control. It is also necessary to formulate the law in a way that would prevent the same individual from donating over GEL 100 000 to a single party through different legal entities that he/she owns. At the same time, based on the research, in order to reduce the risk of corruption it is advisable to bar the enterprises that won public procurement contracts during the election year and the preceding year from making donations and prohibit the enterprises that finance political parties from participating in public procurement during the election year and the next year.

As the member of Republican Party and the analyst, Vakhtang Khmaladze stated, the issue of accountability, which was frequently mentioned in the report, should be taken very carefully, “ a party spends money not only in the capital but in the regions as well. Therefore the collecting of full information on how much money was spent needs time. Making especially small time limits in which the party should present estimated figures, is not right, to my mind," said the analyst who supported the idea of establishing an upper limit on how much money can be spent by political subjects, during the elections.

His recommendation has been presented by member of New Rights, Mamuka Katsitadze, who has initiated splitting of two themes from each other. He had the following to say about the financing of political parties, “ financing of parties by private sector and financing by the budget should be studied separately. Of course, there is a great responsibility, when a party gets finances from the private sector, however, there is much more responsibility when a party gets money from the state budget.”