PPP still supports campaign financing law but wary about disclosure of donors

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 May 2023, 19:29 by Denis Chabrol

The incumbent People’s Progressive Party (PPPC) maintains its support for election campaign financing legislation but  feared that full disclosure of donors could lead to them facing a backlash from the opposition, party General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo said Thursday.

“We also have another reality that once people’s names go on a register next thing- and we raised this with the EU- you know the behaviour of APNU (A Partnership for National Unity). From the moment a person says ‘I’ve given a hundred dollars. Because there will be a public register of every person who donates, APNU will end up in front of their business and say boycott the business, boycott their operations so that is something that we have to pay attention to” he told a news conference at Freedom House, the PPP’s headquarters.

He hinted that any campaign financing legislation would address concerns such as funders being targeted by opponents and ensuring that oil resources do not determine the outcome of political contests for State power.

Noting that the PPPC was the only party that in 2020 promised election campaign financing legislation, he said the PPPC shared the concern that “big money could alter the results of elections.”  “We are committed to ensuring that big money, especially oil resources, that they do not influence elections here in Guyana and this is why we put that in our manifesto,” he said.

As far back as August 2017, former Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes had expressed concern that oil companies could fund election campaigns and so exercise leverage over the country’s political landscape

While the PPPC in its 2020 election campaign manifesto promised to “pass campaign finance legislation”, he on Thursday said his party  “committed to exploring campaign financing reform in this period.”

He said “I don’t agree” with the European Union Election Observation Mission that found that in the 2020 election campaign showed that the two key contestants had significant funds at their disposal while no other party had the capacity to run a nationwide campaign and that the legal framework does not not provide for transparency and accountability. He argued that Guyana’s two big parties could not be compared to smaller parties. “It’s natural that they will run bigger campaigns so not for that reason. Our job, as political parties, is not to ensure that every single party has equal financing. You have to raise financing on the basis of your policy-making and whether people find you attractive or not,” said Mr Jagdeo who is also Guyana’s Vice President.

As General Secretary, he said he was responsible for growing he PPP rather than doing the job of small parties. He sought to assure that the framework and transparency would be the same for all parties.

Concerning the EU’s recommendation that Guyana should adopt the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) into domestic legislation, he said the country ratified that treaty in 2008.

In the early 2000s, the PPPC and the People’s National Congress Reform had been invited by the Organisation of American States to a meeting in Barbados to discuss campaign financing legislation.