Table bills related to polls in original, EC tells PM Dahal

Kathmandu, September 26

The Election Commission today told Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to ensure that electoral reforms it introduced in new election-related bills should be tabled in the Parliament in original form.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the EC office bearers told the PM that the election body had proposed in the bills to provide public funding to the political parties and mandate the parties to submit their annual audit report.

She said the EC had proposed to annul the registration of political parties for failing to submit their audit reports annually. Under the current system, registration of political parties cannot be cancelled even if they fail to submit their audit report for three years.

“Public funding of political parties and financial transparency in political parties are crucial tools to stop political parties from coming under the influence of interest groups,” she said and added that clandestine funding of political parties by interest groups breeds corruption.

Initially the government may have to spend some money from its coffer, but the good results that these reforms can bring will be far more beneficial for the country, she argued. Extortion of money by political parties, Sharma added, has damaging effects on markets which can be controlled by public funding.

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav said the EC told the PM that it wanted the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission to submit its report soon so that the EC could deploy its staff to prepare voters and run voters’ education programme.

Yadav said the PM told the EC office bearers that the government would soon declare the date for local polls. The government has said that it plans to hold local polls by mid-April. He said he also told the PM to appoint three other commissioners of the EC soon.

Sharma said the PM noted down all the points of reforms that the EC wanted to introduce in new election laws and said he would try his best to enact those provisions into laws.

Sharma said the new reforms that the election body wanted to introduce would create level playing field among the political parties, increase participation of women in legislature and executive and ensure transparency in the political parties.

The EC has submitted drafts of five local polls related bills to the government. Sharma said the EC had proposed that the political parties should field 50 per cent of women candidates and one candidate either for the chief or the deputy chief of local bodies -- village council or municipalities.

“The constitution says that there should be 33 per cent representation of women in the House of Representatives. As far as local bodies are concerned, the constitution only says that there should be two women as ward commissioners but the statute does not say anything about women’s representation in the local executive,” Sharma added.

She added that the EC needed all the election related draft bills enacted into laws in six weeks if it had to hold local polls by mid-April.

The EC also interacted with parties represented in the Parliament to know their views on the constitutional provisions that require political parties to register with the EC for election and organisational purposes.

Sharma said the EC briefed the parties on the constitutional provisions and parties were positive about abiding by those provisions.