Cyprus Mail

AKEL pledges to improve transparency

Akel's Andros Kyprianou

By Elias Hazou

A COALITION of civil society organisations yesterday secured a commitment from main opposition AKEL to engage in a structured dialogue on improving Cyprus’ track record vis a vis transparency in party funding.

The recently-formed Transparency Now platform met AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou, who pledged his party would soon set up a dedicated team to discuss the issue with them.

The AKEL team and the platform would go through the Political Parties Law of 2012 “article by article” with a view to improving its clauses, Kyprianou told reporters after the meeting.

Transparency Now is pushing for greater transparency in public life, election campaign financing and party funding, drawing from successive reports by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-Corruption Group.

Though couched in polite language, the GRECO findings on Cyprus were “pretty damning”, says Eric Shukuroglou, a spokesman for the group.

The platform has launched a petition ( calling for a series of steps to raise the standard of transparency with regard to party finances.

The petition has already obtained close to their goal of 5,000 signatures, and the House Speaker has promised the group that once that target is met he would push for a review of the Political Parties Law (PPL) at the House Ethics Committee.

The petition highlights six key demands: banning anonymous contributions to parties; all party transactions must go through banks; a legal obligation on parties to publish their accounts; prohibition of donations to parties by state-controlled enterprises (such as semi-governmental organisations); parties must be liable in court like any other legal entity; and deterrent penalties when parties fail to submit their accounts to a public audit, such as fines or a ban from receiving state grants.

According to Shukuroglou, the aftermath of the ‘bail-in’ of Cypriot banks and the consequent near-economic meltdown is what really galvanised the group.

“Almost every single day we hear of new scandals in public life, loans written off and so on. And polls have shown that a vast majority of Cypriots no longer trust politicians,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

But what’s different this time round? “I believe the economic disaster broke the camel’s back. People want more transparency, and even the parties have come to realise this,” offers Shukuroglou.

The group hope to be invited to participate at a debate at the House Ethics Committee committee if and when it takes place:

“The last time the relevant law was debated in parliamentary committee, the sessions were held behind closed doors. How’s that for irony?”

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