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Chamber of Control to closely monitor political parties’ finances

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, January 5
The Georgian Chamber of Control has already announced the person who will chair the financial monitoring of political parties in the run up to the elections. Herewith the scheme, how the political parties and the Chamber of Control will collaborate, and clear obligations will be known to all interested parties.

Based on the changes in the law of political unions, the Chamber of Control will control the financial activities of political parties acting in Georgia. Although previously the Central Election Commission was in charge of monitoring political parties’ finances, its authority in this respect was extremely limited.

Natia Mogeladze is the figure who will take on this responsibility and lead the monitoring. It is known that she is a lawyer by profession and worked as a prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice.

According to the Chairman of the Chamber of Control Levan Bezhashvili, all relevant information for political parties will be placed on the Chamber of Control’s website and the parties will be able to send their questions there.

“There is a project of annual financial declaration on the website. Based on that, political parties are obliged to present all information of their financial state by February 1, 2012.” The report should cover the period from January 1 of 2011 to January 1 of 2012.

Bezhashvili also informed that up until that day all political parties will get letters and will be responsible for allocating responsibility and contacting relevant figures about financial issues. “The Chamber of Control can also give consultations to political parties on financial procedures,” Bezhashvili said.

As for concrete issues, the head of the Chamber of Control said that the political parties will have to notify the Chamber of Control about donations, which should be made through bank wire transfers, within three working days after receiving them.

Parties will submit their financial declarations to the Chamber of Control every year before February 1 and the Chamber of Control will have to post these declarations on its website. The Chamber of Control will be authorized to impose a GEL 5,000 fine on a political party in the event of its failure to meet disclosure requirements envisaged by these regulations. During the electoral period the parties will have to submit to the agency declarations once every three weeks.

According to the new regulations, the Chamber of Control has the power to impound property, including the bank account of a political party, legal entity or of an individual person; this decision by the Chamber of Control can be appealed in court, but the agency’s decision on impoundment will not be suspended during court proceedings.

The new party funding regulations ban corporate donations. They also envisage doubling of the donation cap that a single individual can provide to a party from the previously allowed maximum of GEL 30,000 to GEL 60,000 per year; it also introduced a cap of GEL 1,200 for the annual party membership fee from each member.

Opposition representative Manana Nachkebia said that her party has always been transparent in terms of financial issues and thus cooperation with the Chamber of Control in this regard would not be difficult for them.

As representative of Our Georgia - Free Democrats Viktor Dolidze told The Messenger, Free Democrats have no problem in this regard. “Just the contrary, we have always had very well organised finances and this will be evident in February when we present our financial report.” He also mentioned that “It would be better if the ruling party and its puppet ones, worked on this issue more”. Dolidze also mentioned the “elite corruption” in the administration which he says “flourishes” in the state and authorities’ illegal actions in the financial direction.

As for the authorities, according to them, all the changes reflected in the law “were made according to international recommendations and public needs”. As for the alleged ‘elite corruption’, the authorities consider that one of the main achievements of the current government, which is also recognized by the international community, is their defeat of corruption in the state.