The Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) legislation will not be debated before Parliament goes on a break at the end of this week.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday confirmed to Guardian Media that the legislation will be worked on at the Joint Select Committee (JSC) “as we go into recess”.
Changed to the reporting of campaign finance was an “urgent priority” in the People’s National Movement (PNM) manifesto back in 2015.
According to the manifesto promise, the PNM said they planned to put an end to the “pernicious scourge of political investors, once and for all”.
According to the 2015 manifesto “the PNM will draft, enact and implement appropriate campaign finance legislation”.
Four years later in April 2019, Al-Rawi said that the proposed Campaign Finance Reform legislation would be brought to Parliament in a couple of weeks.
At that time, in response to questions from then opposition senator Gerald Ramdeen, Al-Rawi said the CFR legislation would make it mandatory to regulate parties’ financing.
Earlier this year, in May Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that the CFR would ensure that another Cambridge Analytica situation does not arise.
At that time Rowley said that the CFR would be instituted before the 2020 general elections and said then that he expected to send the draft bill to a JSC for consideration.
In May Rowley criticised the existing law.
He said that the existing law does not regulate the role and impact of the media during an election campaign, it does not provide alternative sources of funding, such as public funding, to even the playing field for all interested in political office to present their unique political messages to voters.
The existing law, Rowley said, does not punish political parties for the misuse and misapplication of funding which creates the opportunity for corruption and money laundering.
The current law also does not regulate the incumbent government’s access to state resources before and during an election campaign period.
He said then that that “loophole” presented an opportunity to supplement a candidate’s resources with State resources.
The new bill provides that donations made in excess of $50,000 will be a tax-deductible expense and must be publicly disclosed.
The donors, the nature and amount of that donation and the date the donation is made must be published.
The legislation also took Government tendering into consideration.
The Bill provides that where a person, company or other entity makes a contribution to a registered political party or a candidate, in excess of $50,000, and, within two years before making the contribution, had entered into a Government contract having a contract value in excess of$2,000,000, it shall be declared to the Elections and Boundaries Commission within 14 days after making the contribution.
Also, all registered political parties will be entitled to receive state funding.