40 out of 321 parties submit assets details

ISLAMABAD - Only 40 out of the total registered political parties have so far submit their financial statements while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought powers to bind each party to abide by the law.
The ECP in this regard has submitted a proposal with the Electoral Reforms Committee seeking powers to take action against those political parties that avoid sharing financial details of their political platforms.
Besides, the ECP has recommended revising the criteria for registration of new political parties. Citing the example of India where a political party is deleted from the list of registered political parties if it fails to secure certain number of seats in general elections.
Less than 20 political parties in the country have their elected representatives in provincial assemblies, National Assembly and Senate while the rest have not clinched a single seat. Majority of them have never made it to any house for a single time since their inception.
There are hundreds of registered political parties that have not been able to clinch a single seat in any election but still they are listed as political parties. Similarly, they have not shared financial statements required as per law after every year.
Political parties have to submit their annual assets each year on August 29 and the elected members of National Assembly, provincial assemblies and Senate have to share their financial statements before September 30.
While some 40 major political parties have so far complied with the law by making their financial assets public, the ECP is, however, helpless to take action against the violators as it lacks the power that could force heads of political parties to submit yearly statements.
However, members of the parliamentary political forces too are hesitant to empower the ECP to take action against the violators. “Nobody in the Electoral Reforms Committee has discussed the issue so far. We need criteria to register political parties and to make them bound to share details of financial assets with us,” a senior ECP official told The Nation seeking anonymity.
The ECP has also sought more power to make lawmakers bound submit details of their yearly income and to investigate the details submitted by them with the ECP. “We need to ascertain whether a lawmaker really possesses the assets he has shared with us or has fudged the figures. ECP needs cover to probe the details independently,” he aid.
Article 203 of the constitution requires submission of a statement of assets of a lawmaker, his spouse and dependents. The ECP can suspend the membership of a lawmaker if he/she fails to submit the required details after before October 15.
The ECP is also perturbed by the easy criteria for registration of political parties arguing a bar should be placed on one-man party. The commission argues that a political party should be registered after it announced details of its office-holders and its assets.
“At present, a simple application is filed with the ECP for registration of a political party. We are bound to follow a judgment of Supreme Court back in 1988 in which the ECP was directed not make hurdles in registration of a political party,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the ECP yesterday issued a schedule of Local Government Elections on direct seats of Punjab to be held on March 21. The elections would be held on more than 76 seats of different union councils located in 24 districts of Punjab, said a spokesman of the commission.
The seats remained vacant due the deaths of candidates, wrong allocation of symbols and misprinting of ballot papers, he added. According to the schedule, a notice inviting nomination papers to be issued by the Returning Officer on March 4 and nomination papers can be filed on March 7 while scrutiny of the papers will be done on March 8.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt