Sun, Nov 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

New rule on parties' financial declaration to start in January

TRANSPARENCY?While all political organizations will be required to make their finances public, there will be no penalty for those who fail to do so

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Starting on Jan. 1, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) will require all political parties and organizations to declare their finances and post such declarations on the ministry's Web site.

According to the ministry's press release, political parties with earnings of NT$30 million (US$912,834) or more will be required to submit their annual income and financial statements to auditors for review.

Foremost among the records to be posted online will be parties' annual balance sheets, financial inventories and receipt and expenditure statements, the release said.

"When political parties present their candidates for election, it's important for the public to know how transparent and clean the parties from which the candidates come, are," the ministry's spokeswoman Patricia Huang (黃秀美) told the Taipei Times yesterday.

However, the new rules would not be legally binding. That means parties that fail to publicize their finances will not be penalized, she said.

"However, if the public sees that a certain party has refused to post its earnings in accordance with the rules, that would raise suspicions about how clean and aboveboard that party is," Huang said.

Huang added that the ministry hoped to use public opinion to induce political organizations to be more forthcoming with their finances.

Huang said the new rules were not related to the corruption scandal involving President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), his wife and top aides, as the ministry had been planning to require parties to post their financial information on its Web site for a long time.

"The financial transparency of political parties and organizations is important in a democracy," Huang said.

She added that the political parties' fiscal records would most likely be posted on the ministry's Department of Civil Affairs' Web site sometime early next year.

In addition to all the parties currently represented in the Legislative Yuan, the ministry will require some 160 political organizations, including fringe parties, to post their financial earnings online.

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