Labour deputy leaders agree with party-funding law
The Labour Party's two deputy leaders said yesterday they agree with legislation to regulate party funding.
The prospect of a partyfunding law was raised by the Prime Minister last Sunday when he was asked about the recent controversy surrounding PN general secretary Joe Saliba's holiday aboard the boat of contractor Zaren Vassallo.
"I have no problem if Labour and the other parties agree... As party leader I support the idea," Dr Gonzi said, even pledging to immediately lay bare the party's accounts if his political opponents play ball.
MLP leader Alfred Sant - who is abroad on a private trip - was not available for comment.
However, deputy leaders Charles Mangion and Michael Falzon say that, in principle, they support the idea of regulating party funding.
"If things are above board, I think it is an idea that needs to be discussed," Dr Mangion said, pointing out that nowadays even NGOs were being regulated for the sake of greater transparency.
Dr Falzon went one step further, saying he favours public funding through which parties would derive their campaign money from the state.
"I personally think it's about time we sat down and discussed the issue in a mature way. I see nothing wrong with a public funding system, as long as it's transparent.
"We cannot really avoid the fact that politics today costs money, parties have new, more demanding exigencies and it's expensive to get your message through."
Malta is one of the few European states without legislation that forces political parties to disclose sources of their finances, including donations from big businessmen.
In 1995, a commission set up by then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami had made a series of proposals on the subject. There were discussions between the parties, including Alternattiva Demokratika, but nothing came of the discussions.
A measure of consensus was achieved on the idea of state funding.
The commission had proposed that parties cap donations at Lm10,000 and declare every individual contribution above Lm5,000. Labour agreed, but the PN objected, raising the bar for declared donations to Lm10,000 and the capping to Lm20,000.
AD, in contrast, had proposed to lower both to Lm500 and Lm1,000 respectively.