Campaign finance reform long overdue

Dear Editor,

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) notes several outstanding matters:

• PLP and FNM have avoided reform for decades;

• Curious timing following NPO Bill backlash;

• Robust legislation will reveal special interests;

• No further delay to passage of legislation.

The DNA notes the comments attributed to the attorney general of a draft bill seeking to regulate the financing of campaigns for political parties in The Bahamas.

This announcement comes on the heels of significant pushback and backlash following the tabling of the Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) legislation. The legitimate concern of the populace that political parties, just like NPOs, should not be exempt from scrutiny seems to have forced the government to finally propose campaign finance legislation.

We believe that it is extremely important that the Bahamian people are aware of the sources of funding for political organizations. The legislative and policy priorities of successive administrations upon assuming office point to an obvious need for transparency and accountability in the campaign finance process. An effective campaign finance legal framework will reveal special interests and groupings that may seek repayment in favors, contracts and appointments from political parties following election victories.

The discourse on campaign finance regulation has been taking place in The Bahamas for decades without any meaningful progress by the Progressive Liberal Party and Free National Movement administrations to date. Campaign finance reform in The Bahamas is long overdue and should not be delayed any further.

While it can be argued that the government’s recent pronouncement is only an attempt to placate the Bahamas Christian Council, NPOs and the Bahamian people, we are hopeful that this is not another grandiose announcement without any intention to implement this vital framework. The Bahamian people deserve and urgently demand good governance from an administration that promised that it would be “the people’s time”.

We implore the government to proceed with completing the drafting, tabling and passing of the legislation without any further delay and pray that this crucial legislation does not meet the same fate as the Freedom of Information Act, which has been put on the proverbial backburner. Campaign finance reform has been at the heart of the DNA’s platform for good governance, and the DNA looks forward to providing valuable input into the draft legislation and working with the government to complete this process as soon as possible.

— Arinthia S. Komolafe, deputy leader, Democratic National Alliance

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