Cyprus Mail

Audit office calls for overhaul of law on election spending

Photo: CNA

The audit service called on the authorities to overhaul legislation concerning election expenses after certain contradictory provisions rendered party expenditure during in the run up to the 2018 presidential elections unlawful.

According to the service’s report on party funding, current provisions in the law seem to create a paradox; on one hand parties cannot legally use the state grant they receive for the presidential elections, apart from offering it to the candidates they support, and on the other hand, it allows candidates to spend more than the one million limit because when the funds are used by parties or others, they are rendered illegal and do not count towards the candidate’s spending limit.

The audit service suggested the director of parliament, as the auditing officer, should ensure that the law is implemented, in consultation with the chief returns officer and the attorney-general.

The returns officer must also prepare a bill to update the particular provisions, make them clearer, and ensure the rational use of the state grant.

It also wants the law to compel parties to file detailed expenditure documentation to the audit service.

In its report, the audit service said three parties, Akel, Disy, and Diko, who backed respective candidates, should have returned part of the grant to the state because it had not been used.

Akel only gave part of the grant to its candidate, Stavros Malas, the report said. Also, the party’s financial statements for 2017 and 2018 include election expenses amounting to €254,859 and €340,800 respectively, which the party said include other elections and not just the €473,800 transferred to Malas.

Diko, according to the auditor, spent €257,979 on the presidential elections while its financial statements for 2017 and 2018 recorded €169,764 and €136,114 respectively as election expenses.

It does not appear that the presidential election grant given to Diko was used by its candidate, Nicolas Papadopoulos and should be returned to the state, the report said. Part of the grant was not used, and the remainder was not used for the reason it was given in line with the law, the report added.

Disy said it spent €365,152 on the presidential elections. The audit service noted that the state grant received by DIsy for the presidential elections did not seem to have been given to Nicos Anastasiades.

The grant should have been returned to the state since part of it was not used in accordance with the law.

The audit office estimates that €2.1m should be returned to the state in total.

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