The Network of NGOs (BNN) is calling for legislation to govern campaign financing. The network issued a release today referring to this week’s political fallout and the testimonies given in the Utah courtroom, demanding that the Government takes all necessary steps to immediately introduce campaign finance legislation to set out transparency and parameters on how funds are provided to political parties and candidates vying for public office. The Prime Minister was the one who highlighted the fact there is no legislation in place in that regard when he first addressed the allegations of corruption levied against John Saldivar. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber, during his campaign for UDP leadership, had spoken on the issue, supporting such legislation conditionally. He spoke on it again today.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Belize: “You heard my position on this various times, I think I first mentioned it on the Love FM Morning Show and I’ve gone on the record loud and clear, I hope that you carry my message again because it is something that I think really really needs to happen in this country. I think that there is a simultaneous action that needs to happen. Campaigns do require money and if it is that this is going to be done in an effort to try to stem corruption and stem the kind of practice that is going to ultimately cause the Belizean taxpayers a lot of money and a lot of good government efforts then I think the simultaneous action of providing financing to the political parties from the government’s chest if you will should be something that is discussed. The campaigns do cost money, at least then we will know what is being spent and that is not an uncommon practice in other countries and so I think that that can be explored. It’s not something that I have given any deep research on but it strikes me that if the money is not going to come from those sources and there’s going to be a kind of control of what is going to be spent, how much is going to be spent, the safest bet is to say you can apply for funds for your campaign here but you need to cut out that practice of getting it from wherever in whatever amounts that makes you beholden to those persons or those entities that give you money later on.”
The BNN went on in their release to say that they believe that the new campaign finance laws should include limits on the size of contributions to political parties and political candidates, require that all campaign contributions be declared, that spending in elections be regulated, and that election expenses be made publicly available and subject to limits for candidates and registered political parties, among other provisions. Unregulated and unsanctioned campaign contributions threaten our national interest. Such contributions influence Belize’s local politics, damage our international reputation, and threaten our economic stability. The BNN asserts that the time is now to establish a system to regulate campaign contributions.