PUBLIC FUNDING OF POLITICAL PARTIES IS PRONE TO ABUSE

Published by Patra K on

Public funding of political parties is prone to abuse

The ACFIM Team meeting some of the Chairpersons of parliamentary commitees to discuss the gaps in the Political Party and Organization Act

The November 2021 supplementary budget increased the allocation for political party funding from UGX 20 billion ($5.63 million) to UGX 35 billion ($9.89 million).

Political parties in Uganda that are represented in Parliament have been benefiting from public funding since financial year 2015/16, but the vagueness in the audit systems and procedures subjects the funds to misuse.

Yet, the amendment of Section 14A of the Political Parties and Organisations Act (2005), which guaranteed public funding to political parties and organizations represented in Parliament, has a number of gaps in relation to ensuring better control and efficient management of the funds. The major gaps in the Act are:

   a)Does not define when the disbursements to political parties shall be made. Thus, the funds are always disbursed late in form of arrears.

   b)Does not prescribe what the public funds received by political parties shall be used for and not be used for (i.e., eligible or ineligible expenditure), thus making the funds susceptible to abuse.

   c)Does not require political parties to maintain a separate bank account into which funds provided to the party by the state shall be deposited and managed to avoid comingling with funds from other sources.

   d)Does not require political parties and organizations to keep proper books of accounts in relation to state/public funds and produce statements of final accounts on utilization of the public funds at the end of every financial year.

   e)There is no requirement by the Electoral Commission to report to Parliament in respect of public funds disbursed to political parties.

   f)Sub-section 14A(b) of the Political Parties and Organisations Act (as amended) 2005, has been consistently ignored thus defeating the very purpose of its framers. This section falls short of prescribing a period within which a political party that has received funds in respect of this sub-section, should report on the funds after elections.

   g)Sub-section 14A(d) of the Act, enjoins the Auditor General to audit the public funds but there is no evidence that this happens. A report on the audited accounts in respect of public funding to political parties since financial year 2015/16, has never been presented to Parliament.

   h)Section 14A refers to use of Government or public resources for political party or organization activities. Public resources may include public media, public premises, etc.

Ugandans have never received a full account of how the public finds disbursed to political parties are received, managed, audited, and the impact of public funding on country’s democratization process. The utilization of these funds is neither substantiated nor explainable.

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