Yesterday, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) reported on the financial status and accounts of the two registered parties, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A happy Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Dasho Kunzang Wangdi was pleased to announce that both parties had settled its liabilities as per the election norms.
Upon review, the ECB stated that the PDP had settled its liabilities of Nu 22,838, 436.50 which the party owed to its former president, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, whose land had been auctioned against the settlement of the bank loan and various debtors of which Nu 17, 623, 440.27 had been adjusted as voluntary contributions from its registered members.
PDP’s actual voluntary contribution made by its registered members was Nu 3,937,400.00.
The DPT settled its financial liability of Nu 20,396, 428.57 which it owed to the bank, its president, and various debtors from the voluntary contributions collected from its registered members, which had been to the satisfaction of the commission.
The ECB has already asked both parties to publish their audited annual accounts at the end of every financial year.
According to the ECB, both parties’ report had been reviewed as per the commission’s notification of 31 January 2009. The aim was to determine whether both parties had abided by the six conditions as put forth by the commission.
The first of the conditions was whether the political parties had complied to conditions set in the above referred notifications, second was if the funds were mobilized in accordance with the Public Election Fund Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Thirdly, whether the funds received had been in accordance with the list of registered members, the fourth condition was whether the registration of members have been carried out as per the Bhutan Electoral Data Base System with complete information.
The fifth condition was whether the funds utilized had been for genuine and authorized purposes, and the sixth condition was whether the receipts and payments had been properly consolidated in accordance with the generally accepted accounting practices and if it had reflected true and fair affairs of the operations of the party or not.
In accordance to all this, the ECB stated that the status of both parties remain unaffected as registered political parties under the constitution and the electoral laws.
However, based on the examination of records and the explanations received, findings and the recommendations of the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) and the commission scrutiny both the parties have been asked to take a list of actions.
Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said, both parties will have to undergo education and awareness program on the role of members and the obligations of the political parties under the Electoral Laws’ requirement, this will be conducted by the ECB to ensure the sustainability of the parties as strong and legal entities.
The commission will also be arranging meetings and trainings, which will be mandatory for all the focal persons of the registered political parties to attend.
A proper working system and procedures including transparent and well-defined controls and checks within the respective parties, to achieve a realistic financial management, and accountability objectives and to sustain as practical political parties will need to be established.
Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said that the heads of the secretariats of both parties will be responsible to ensure proper internal controls existed in their respective parties.
The parties will have to be in touch with the ECB with regard to any changes, be it changes in its head offices, office bearers, addresses or any other changes. And the parties will also have to inform the ECB of the Dzongkhag Party Offices and their addresses at which the people will be able to contact by December end of 2012.
The parties will have to strictly comply with the standards and principles of generally accepted accounting principles while maintaining proper and transparent book of accounts. A proper documentation of all the supporting documents on any collections or payments made will have to be ensured.
The parties will also have to ensure that the custody, use, and accounting of money receipts are properly exercised and that not to issue any money receipts without the confirmation of contribution of its members.
The commission advised that parties should update their accounts on quarterly basis and to institute an appropriate follow-up mechanism to ensure timely liquidation of advances to avoid accumulation.
The parties will have to accord equivalent monetary values for any voluntary time put in for party works or rent free spaces for housing the Dzongkhag party offices in private residences to be in the form of office orders and be accounted in the parties’ book of accounts as voluntary contributions of such registered members.
The parties will need to review the need for different levels of coordinators particularly during the non-election period, and the parties will be allowed to receive contributions made by the registered members in cheques as required under Section 73 of the Public Election Fund Act 2008.
Dasho Kunzang also said that the commission will consider the transaction of the contributions in cash, if less than Nu 5000 by each member annually.
The CEC said the contributions could also be made in the form of cash warrants, telephonic transfers, or demand drafts.
In the case of practical difficulties, the commission would study the case on the basis provided in the contribution list along with the membership registration forms of the registered members which should be submitted to the ECB.
And whatever pending issues that both parties may have the ECB has asked the parties to resolve them and intimate the actions taken to the commission by 15 October 2012.