Nepal Election Commission seeks clarifications from parties for failing to submit financial details

KATHMANDU, Jan 29: Election Commission (EC) on Saturday issued a public notice against various 30 political parties including the ruling Madhesi parties to furnish clarifications within next 15 days as to why they failed to submit the details of their incomes and expenditures.

Issuing a public notice on Saturday, the EC has also sought clarifications as to why the parties should not be punished as per the provisions made in the Act Related to Political Parties (2058 BS) for failing to submit their financial details within the stipulated deadline.

The EC in the notice asked political parties to furnish valid reasons, if any, within the next 15 days.

EC Spokesperson Sharada Prasad Trital said that many parties have not submitted the details since the last three years and that they failed to do so even after the EC gave them a mandatory deadline of January 14.

“We have sought clarifications from political parties through a public notice. The Election Commission will take decision whether or not to annul the registration of a political party based on the clarifications furnished,” Trital said.

Those who failed to comply with the EC´s notice include Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Nepal, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, Madhesi People´s Rights Forum (Democratic), Tarai Madhes Democratic Party-Nepal, CPN-ML, Rastriya Janashakti Party, Nepal Rastriya Bikas Party, Samajbadi Party Nepal, Rastriya Janata Dal, Nawa Janawadi Morcha, Prajatantrik Shanti Party, Nepal Rastriya Loktantrik Dal, Nepal Jagriti Dal, Rastrabadi Milan Kendra Nepal, Liberal Samajbadi Party, Nepal Dalit Shramik Morcha, Nawa Nepal Prajatantrik Dal and Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Party.

Likewise, Nepal Democratic Youth Party, Nepal Janatantrik Party, Prajatantrik Shakti Party, Nepal Rastriya Janakalyan Party, Rastriya Jana Ekata Party, Nepal Jana Sangha Party, Nepal Shanti Chhetra Parishad, Rastrabadi Yuwa Morcha, Muskan Sena Nepal Party, Nepali Rastriya Janabhawana Party, Janamukti Party Nepal too have not submitted their income and expenditure details since their formation.

TMDP Joint General Secretary Jitendra Sonal gave various excuses for failing to submit their income and expenditure details. “But we will submit the details very soon,” he said when informed about the public notice issued by the EC.

MPRF-Nepal Spokesperson Ratneshwor Lal Kayastha said since he was out of the country for more than a week he is not aware of the fact that his party had failed to submit the income and expenditure details. “I can comment on the issue only after learning the details from the party leadership,” he said.

Ratriaya Janashakti Party Co-Chairman Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani also expressed ignorance about his party failing to submit the details.

“I did not know that the financial details of our party have not been submitted yet. Since we do not have a big income, it would have been better had we submitted the details within the stipulated deadline,” he said.

The EC has also sought clarifications from various 11 parties for submitting details of their incomes and expenditures either partially or without adhering to the existing legal procedures.

These parties include Nepal Communist Party (Samyukta), Samajbadi Janata Party, Dalit Janajati Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Nepal Janabhawana Party, Nepal Janata Dal, Hariyali Nepal Party, Nepal Samata Party, Rastriya Janamukti Party, Chure Bhawar Ekata Party, Nepal and Nepali Congress (Rastrabadi).

 

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Money and politics in Nepal

The nexus between money and politics is one of the enduring challenges facing modern democracies. The political parties, which are the main players in a democratic system, need money to mobilize their cadres and supporters and reach out to the public with their agenda. So the challenge is not so much how to end the role of money in politics as how to set a legitimate limit for its use and to ensure transparency.

All democracies—new and old—struggle to address this challenge but it is more pronounced in the case of fledgling democracies like our own. The public notice issued by the Election Commission against 41 political parties on Saturday, asking them why it should not revoke their registration for failing to submit their income-expenditure statements, is a grim reminder of the distance that we still need to cover before we are anywhere close to judiciously addressing this challenge.

As per existing election law, the parties are required to submit their audited financial reports to the Election Commission every year. And if a party fails to comply with this requirement for three consecutive years, the Commission can annul its registration. The major political parties—including the UCPN (M), NC and UML—rushed to submit their hurriedly prepared audit reports just a few days before the end of the three-year deadline.

This clearly shows that the parties see financial transparency as a burdensome legal obligation and not a moral obligation. None of Nepal’s parties has a clean financial track record and the larger the party the bigger the problem. Though the big three -- UCPN (M), NC, UML-- have submitted their audited reports, it is hard to believe that these reports encompass all their incomes and expenditures. When it comes to their finances, the parties hide more than they reveal. This opacity that pervades almost all the political parties in Nepal often serves the interests of the party establishments as it gives them a monopoly over the use and misuse of money.

Leave alone the EC or the general public, even senior party leaders are often in the dark about the financial status of their respective parties. As long as Girija Prasad Koirala was the NC president, party leaders and cadres hardly ever dared to ask him how much money the party had at any given point in time. Though rival factions among the Maoists raise the issue of financial transparency in the party, and even occasionally accuse Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal of corruption, they have hardly any idea how much money Dahal controls or how much their party raised during the insurgency. Forcing the parties to maintain transparency is key to strengthening intra-party democracy.

Green Nepal Party