Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet takes aim at donations

LIMITS The bill attempts to level the playing field for candidates, but would not prevent them from using residue from their war chests in subsequent elections

By Fan Cheng-hsiang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Cabinet-sponsored draft amendment to the Political Donations Law (政治獻金法) would impose a strict limit on campaign donations by political parties to their own candidates for public office.

Candidates for president, county commissioner, mayor and the legislature would be allowed to accept only NT$25 million (US$760,000), NT$3 million and NT$1 million in cash respectively from their parties, according to the draft amendment.

Anticipating other forms of material assistance, the draft amendment also puts a cap of NT$25 million on funding for advertisements, campaign rallies and other similar campaign support by parties for presidential candidates.

County commissioner or mayoral hopefuls and legislative candidates would only be allowed NT$3 million and NT$1 million respectively -- the same amounts as for cash donations.

A final Cabinet review of the draft amendment is expected to be completed soon. It is expected to be submitted to the legislature during the current session.

Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) discussed the draft amendment with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus on Wednesday.

He said yesterday that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) could gain an unfair advantage in elections by liquidating its stolen assets and using an enhanced cash flow to support its candidates' campaigns.

"This is a `sunshine bill,'" Lee said. "This will help candidates compete fairly, and I hope other parties will support it."

For all its tough talk, however, the draft amendment would allow candidates to use whatever funds they collect but do not spend during a campaign for subsequent campaigns up to four years later.

Candidates could also donate leftover funds to educational, cultural, philanthropic and other public interest groups, as well as political parties or other groups affiliated with the parties, as per existing laws, according to the draft.

Candidates wishing to return donations must do so within a stipulated timeframe. Otherwise, the funds must be turned over to the treasury.

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