Unable to verify the expense of politicians, EC against state funding of polls

NEW DELHI: The Electoral Commission is not in favor of state financing of the elections, since it cannot prohibit or control the expenses of the candidates beyond those provided by the state, the government He told Lok Sabha on Monday.

In written response, the finance minister said EC The opinion is that in order to address the real problems related to political financing and the need for full transparency, there must be radical changes in the provisions regarding the reception of funds by politicians and the way in which such funds are spent. The Electoral Commission has informed the Government that it is not in favor of state funding, since it cannot prohibit or control the expenses of the candidates or the expenses of others beyond what the state provides, said the minister. .

While the panel had in 1998 justified state funding of elections, it recommended that this benefit be limited to recognised national and state parties. It also recommended that state funding be in kind in the short term. In fact, EC did accept this by allowing airtime to recognised national and state parties for campaigning on state media.

The Law Commission report in 1999 said state funding of elections was “desirable” provided that political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources. Thakur on Monday told the Lok Sabha that that the government , to discourage cash transactions and bring in transparency in the source of funding of political parties, had amended the Income Tax Act and limited anonymous cash donations to Rs 2,000.

He also pointed out that the government had introduced the ‘Electoral Bond Scheme 2018’ to establish a transparent political funding system in the country, with well-established audit trail.