Trinidad political parties quizzed on transparency

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, August 30, 2007 – A lobby group in Trinidad and Tobago is calling for regulations for political party funding to be implemented.

Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) said it has written to the three political parties asking for a meeting within the next four weeks to find out their position on such a measure.

“It is generally recognised that, in a healthy democracy, there should be appropriate regulation of the funding of political parties,” said TTTI chairman, Victor Hart.

“TTTI is surely not alone in the view that, in Trinidad and Tobago, such appropriate regulation is largely lacking. The consequent opportunities for corruption are of particular concern.”

TTTI said it will pose five questions to each party and report the answers to the public. The questions are:

Should political parties be given legal status and be subject to an independent regulatory body?

Should political parties be required to publish annual accounts and be subject to external auditing, supervised by the regulatory body?

Should political parties and candidates be required to disclose to the public details of contributions received above a certain value, stating the value and source of each?

Should campaign expenditure by both parties and candidates be subject to realistic and enforceable limits?

Should the State contribute to the cost of political campaigns? If so, with what checks and balances?