Debono presents private motion
Nationalist MP Franco Debono this morning presented a private members motion on party financing in Parliament.
He told timesofmalta.com the motion is accompanied with a bill which is based on German and UK legislation.
Dr Debono said that since more than 15 years have passed since the Galdes report was drawn up and nothing concrete was done except for sporadic articles in newspapers, he felt the time had come for him to present this bill especially since this was a reform which he had been campaigning for for the past four years.
This law, he said, was fundamental for democracy especially to expose certain underground networks or cliques if any. Such networks undermined democracy.
Dr Debono said he has supervised the drafting of the bill by the Drafting Unit. It was approved by the Prime Minister in the past weeks and it satisfied and went beyond Greco requirements.
Dr Debono said he been working on this draft even before the draft by President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici failed the Greco test.
The bill still needed a lot of fine-tuning which should follow public feedback and debate in the House but it was providing the main structure for the law.
The bill, he said, addressed the anomalous situation regarding candidates' expenditure which has been criticised for years on end.
Dr Debono’s bill stipulates that political parties must register all donations exceeding €300 made from any one source in a calendar year.
When aggregate donations add up to more than €7,000, the names of the donors must be made public by being given to the Electoral Commissioner. Donations of more than €50,000 in one year would not be permissible.
It makes no distinction between donations from party and non-party members whereas the draft seen by Greco makes party members exempt.
The bill encompasses various other aspects including that political parties must be formally registered after satisfying a number of criteria, including the submission of proper accounts.
It speaks about party discipline and says no member can be expelled from a party without a process of ascertainment of facts and opportunity of defence within an independent tribunal.
Dr Debono's bill sets more realistic thresholds for candidate spending, an issue that sparked controversy during the last MEP elections when the expenditure of certain candidates was publicly questioned.
Dr Debono said that another issue concerning transparency and accountability, which he had addressed in another private member’s motion on justice he filed about two months ago was on telephone tapping and interception.
He states that telephone interception by the security service not concerning state security should not depend on the political authorisation of the Home Affairs Minister, as the situation is today, but should be passed on to an independent investigative or judicial authority for greater transparency and separation of powers.
Telephone tapping and interception today depend on a warrant issued by the Home Affairs Minister who decides what interceptions to make, on whom and for how long.