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A lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Dr Lord Mensah, has called for a scrutiny of how political parties are financed in the country.
He explained that this will help to measure the spending of political parties and also deepen the democracy.
Speaking on The Key Points programme on TV3 Saturday, October 31, Dr Mensah said transparency in how the parties are funded will minimize how governing parties spend.
“We will have to revisit how the political parties are funded,” he said while contributing to the discussion on the raging public sector debt debate.
The issue of political party financing has been a major concern for stakeholders in the country.
For instance, in a publication titled ‘Financial Transparency and Accountability‐Africa’ done by H. Kwasi Prempeh and Stephen Kwaku Asare, Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and a private legal practitioner respectively, concerns were raised to the effect that the legal regime for political party financing in Ghana is extremely loose.
According to the publication, the gaps in the law are compounded by gaps in implementation of the law.
Not only do political parties routinely fail to comply with the provisions of the law, but also the authorities with the statutory mandate to check and punish violations of the law, namely the Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General, have consistently shown no interest or inclination to enforce compliance with the law.
Thus, political party and campaign financing in Ghana is de facto unregulated.
“There is no reliable data on the total amount raised or spent by Ghana’s political parties either on party administration or on election campaigns in any of the country’s recent elections. The fact that the bulk of party and campaign donations in Ghana come in the form of cash makes it impossible independently to collect or track information on the funds raised or their sources.
“There is also no systematic collection of data on party and campaign spending. There is, nonetheless, sufficient impressionistic or anecdotal evidence to suggest that the cost of political campaigning in Ghana has reached astronomical levels in recent years, especially as the competition between the NPP and NDC has intensified in the period since the 2000 elections, with one or the other party often winning the presidential (general) elections by a relatively small margin.
“The current situation, where unlimited, undisclosed, and untraceable amounts of private money finance the country’s political parties and campaigns, poses a danger to the character and health of Ghana’s democracy and governance. Among the consequences of the unregulated private money in Ghanaian politics are the Parties and politics are liable to capture by a small number of moneybags and moneyed interests, including some of possibly foreign; Political parties and campaigns risk becoming conduits for criminal elements looking to launder illicit money; Party financiers often invest in parties and campaigns in the hope and expectation, and sometimes with an explicit understanding, that they would be offered opportunities to recoup their investment plus a hefty return through government procurement and contracting should the party or candidate be elected.
“Big donors may also demand or influence their own appointment or the appointment of their agents to key positions or portfolios in government in order to promote their private interests and facilitate recovery of their campaign investments.”