The following set of key laws and regulations govern the political financing of parties – both during electoral and non-electoral times, and that of electoral candidates.
- Regulation on Political Parties 2005 (enacted under the General Regulations Act (Law No: 6/2008)
- Eections Commission Act (Law No: 8/2008)
- Regulation of the Elections Commission 2010 (enacted under the Elections Commission Act 2008)
- Elections (General) Act (Law No: 11/2008)
- Presidential Elections Act (Law No: 12/2008)
- Regulation on Presidential Elections 2008 (enacted under the Presidential Elections Act 2008)
- Parliamentary Elections Act (Law No: 2/2009)
- Regulation of the People’s Majlis 2006 (enacted under Article 63 of the Constitution). These laws and regulations cover various dimensions of political financing and some of the key aspects of this legal framework include:
Documentation of income and expenses
- Every political party is required to appoint a treasurer to maintain its books of account of all income and expenditure. All political parties are required to prepare and maintain detailed income and expenditure, including details of income and assets, how and from where they were obtained, and details of all expenditure. The Elections Commission is empowered to check reports of income and expenditure of parties at any time. Candidates competing in elections are required to appoint an official election agent, who is required to maintain books of account of all income and expenditure of that candidate.
Limits on Income & Expenses
- Political Parties are permitted to procure finance for their activities through subsidies by Government, and from private actors. Under the Regulation on Political Parties 2005, a total of 0.1-0.2% of the state budget for each year should be allocated to registered political parties. The Elections Commission is mandated to distribute 40% of this amount equally among all political parties registered at the time of distribution, and 60% to be distributed pro rata according to the size of membership of the parties. Apart from this limit on public subsidy, there is no legal limitation prescribed for financing by political parties.
- Political parties are free to obtain income from private parties, including through membership fees, monies and assets from donations, money received from fund raising activities, money received through commercialization of party assets, and by loan financing.
- The Regulation on Political Parties 2005 and the Elections (General) Act 2008 prohibits procurement of monies or assets through certain sources. These include income from foreign citizens, governments, organizations and associations, international organizations, anonymous sources, state institutions or companies with state shareholding, and cooperative societies. Moreover, this Regulation prohibits any use of force or intimidation, or the use of undue influence including special privileges or immunities to certain persons, in the procurement of finance.
- The Elections (General) Act (Law No: 11/2008), which govern the general rules and procedures of all elections, imposes a campaign spending limit of Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) 1,500 per every eligible voter from the constituency of the candidate. Candidates may receive both monetary and in-kind assistance as loans, as far as they do not come from any of the prohibited sources. The contributions given by an individual to a candidate for election expenses should not exceed by more than 0.5% of the campaign spending limit and the contributions given by a legal entity to the candidate for election expenses should not exceed by more than 2% of the campaign spending limit.
Bans and Limits on Private Income
- Parties and candidates should not accept donations from foreigners, foreign governments, foreign organizations or agencies, international organizations, corporative societies, business entities of the government and anonymous sources.
Reporting to State Body
- Political Parties are required to submit to the Elections Commission within 90 days at the end of each year, an audit report detailing all income and assets received, with details of how and from where they were obtained, and details of all expenditure and purposes of all such expenditure.
- All candidates standing elections are required to submit to the Elections Commission, within 30 days of the election, a financial report, detailing all expenditure and income, along with bank statements, receipts, invoices, and bills.
- The right to information is established in the Constitution. A Regulation on the Right to Information from State Institutions, enacted under the General Regulations Act governs the rules and procedure on application and obtaining of official information kept by State institutions made available to the public.
- The Elections (General) Act provides for the Elections Commission to ensure candidates’ financial reports to be made available to the public. Similarly, the Presidential Elections Act 2008 stipulates that the Elections Commission should ensure financial reports submitted by presidential candidates to be made available for public scrutiny.
- There are no legal provisions that require publishing of annual financial reports of political parties, but parties are required to disclose the information to the Elections Commission and members of the respective political party have the right to all information with regards to party income and expenditure.
Sanctions for offences
- The legal regime on the political financing provides for sanctions for both failure of submission of financial reports, as well as for breach on the prohibited sources of financing. The Regulation on Political Parties 2005 provides fines ranging from MVR 20,000 to MVR 50,000 where a party fails to submit its financial records in due time.
- Where a party is found to be in breach of procuring finance through prohibited sources, the Regulation on Political Parties 2005 provides for fines amounting to twice the value of monies or assets procured. The Elections (General) Act provides for fines ranging from MVR 6,000 to MVR 24,000 and imprisonment for up to 2 years where a candidate is found to be in breach of the provisions of the Act, including failure to submit financial reports and breach on limits of procurement of finance as well as limits on campaign spending.
Transparency in Political Financing in Maldives, CRINIS Research Project, Transparency Maldives 2011