Burma’s UEC releases financial directive aimed at opposition partiesBy Zin Linn Jul 01, 2012 10:53PM UTC
Burma’s Union Election Commission has issued a noteworthy directive dated June 29, 2012, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today. The UEC said that the Directive No (1/2012) was released in reference to ‘Section 26 of Political Parties Registration Law’ as regards keeping and spending of funds, finance and use of materials of parties.
UEC also clarified that registered political parties have been granted permission including the right to issue party membership certificates, collect membership fee and monthly fees and campaign in line with the rules of the party. Furthermore, they have the right to fund campaigns of the party and pay set allowances for parliamentary candidates who represent the party during a term of parliament under Section 16 of Political Parties Registration Law and Rule 21.
UEC also spotlighted Sections 15 and 16 of Political Parties Registration Law and Rules 19 and 21 as regards maintenance and usage of funds, finance and materials owned by the party. Political parties must keep accounts, records and evidences after compiling the necessary lists in line with the said rules.
UEC recommended via the directive that every party needs to compile the following lists: Account of party membership and monthly fees; List of cash and materials donated to the party by a citizen, an organization or national company or group of companies inside the country from legally extracted cash and materials; List of legally extracted cash and profit from business activities managed by the party; Fund and budget of the party; List of materials owned and purchased by the party; List of campaign fund drawn on in line with the rules of the party; List of campaign fund drawn on by each of Parliament candidates.
Furthermore, UEC stated that political parties have to complete compiling annual financial statement for each fiscal year and annual list of party-owned materials, auditing the records by the audit committee of the party, and approving the records under the rules and regulations of the party within three months from the end of a fiscal year.
The Directive No (1/2012) also says that under ‘Political Parties Registration Law Section 18 and Rule 23’, UEC and its sub-commissions at each level will audit lists of a party with the help of relevant government department and organizations.
By saying so, UEC directed the political parties to do their respective accounts systematically concerning fund, finance and materials and to prepare for audit of the commission and sub-commissions at each level as stated in Political Parties Registration Law.
According to 22 July 2011 Mizzima News, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) granted a total of 7 billion kyat as small loans and a total of 3 billion kyat as agricultural loans to farmers at a 2 per cent interest rate. It was said that profits would be used in health care services for the public, as said by Aung Thein Lin, a Lower House MP from South Okkalapa Township and a former Rangoon Mayor.
According to a resident in North Okkalapa Township, they got a 30,000 kyat loan each and didn’t need to sign over their possessions. But they had to join the party. Aung Thein Lin also said the USDP would open charity clinics and a charity maternity clinic in Rangoon. The USDP is the government-supported party which holds a majority of seats in Parliament and most of its members occupy several money-spinning businesses by the help of previous junta.
It was not clear that where those loan money of the USDP came from. And it also looked as if the loans were incentive money in order to persuade people to be the party-supporters. Besides, USDP’s money lending project is business-like program since it exploits interests from the borrowers. It was not known as yet, such kind of financial matters were in agreement with Political Parties Registration Law.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi also made various fund raising events in order to help flood victims, fire victims, war refugees in Kachin State and riot victims in Rakhine State. Besides, the NLD also set up free health and education centers for the poor families through independent donors. Moreover, the NLD has been running a small non-profit microfinance project that borrows loans to very poor women who are selling small things to help their families’ survival. However, no one knows about such NLD’s nonprofit funding will have to follow the UEC’s Directive No (1/2012).
Many analysts consider this Directive No (1/2012) may become a political tool of the government’s Union Solidarity and Development Party to pressure the opposition parties including the NLD. Even though the directive is a necessary one, some criticize, it should not be used unfairly or lopsidedly to find fault with the oppositions.