Leaders say political parties need to be more transparent

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Political leaders are of the view that lack of transparency can cripple the way parties are seen in the public eye.
Grenadian politician Nazim Burke said that transparency is needed in government and how parties handle money.
“I think the absence of transparency is critical to the development to any developing country. I think it has caused an erosion of the legitimacy of the process, especially youngsters who are looking at it as they are developing,” Burke said on OBSERVER’s Big Issues programme yesterday.
Using constituency allowances as an example, Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda True Labour Party Vere Bird III, who was also a guest on the programme, pointed to how money paid to politicians go unaccounted.
“I see it in the two main political parties in Antigua & Barbuda. There is such a thing we have called constituency allowance where the MP is given $2,000 a month for their constituencies. Two thousand dollars a month for a year is $24,000 [and] $24,000 over five years is $120,000 each MP gets for their constituency; $120,000 times 17 is $2 million and $40,000 and there is no accountability or transparency for this money from the MPs,” he stated.
Bird suggested that for increased transparency, constituency branches should be legally registered so that the money can be easily accounted for.
“The two major parties have not established themselves as being legally registered so they don’t open bank accounts in their own names, their branches are not registered as part of a legally registered party so therefore, the MP gets $2,000 in a cheque in his name and the people don’t get to know where that money goes,” he said.
Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP),
D Gisele Isaac said on the same programme that transparency in government can be threatened by those who are in charge and said that there is a lack of accountability within the country’s government system.
“A lot of this depends on who really is in power and the personalities of those that are in power. We live in an Antigua & Barbuda now where the checks and balances — where things run a certain way or don’t run a certain way — those checks and balances have very much been eroded,” she said.
Isaac warned that governments much ensure that they do not self-evaluate their actions and performance.
“We have come to a place where the person in power determines whether there will be checks and balances or whether it all resides in the same hands.”
This discussion follows the dismissal of cases last week against three former UPP MPs who were accused of fraud following the 2014 general elections.

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