By Constantinos Psillides
MAJOR political parties on the island have again failed to provide the state audit office with party finances reports for 2013.
The audit service notified the parties on February 13 that their deadline, March 2014, was coming up and still none of the major parties, with the exception of EDEK and the Greens, provided the Service with their financial reports. AKEL, DISY, DIKO, Citizen’s Alliance, EVROKO and the Independent Citizens Movement have yet to comply with the law.
The matter was discussed amongst party leaders and party representatives but no response has yet been given to the audit service.
The Political Parties Law (PPL) was amended in 2012, as an effort to add transparency to party finances. The amendment stipulates that the party forward the information to the Auditor-general. The latter then checks the accounts for any discrepancies and/or violations of the law, compiles a report and sends it back to the permanent secretary of the interior ministry, who in turn publishes the findings in the government gazette.
Though the 2012 law was an improvement on previous legislation, it did not go far enough in the opinion of GRECO, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption group.
Transparency Now, a coalition of civil organisations, has been pushing for greater transparency in disclosure of party finances. One of their key demands is a ban on anonymous contributions to parties.
Transparency Now recently held an open discussion where they presented their proposals to make party finances transparent. Present where the leaders of all major political parties, who agreed that transparency in party finances is needed to gain back the trust of the people.
In a press release after the legislation was passed, GRECO officials expressed their satisfaction with the new legislation, noting that there were still gaps to be filled. “However, it is further pointed out that more steps are needed in order to create a coherent and robust legal framework free from inconsistencies, preferably through gathering all corruption crimes in a single legal instrument”, said the press release.
The next GRECO report is expected on September 30, 2014.