Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Political Funding

3pm – FEO HQ – Suva

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you very much for accepting our invitation.

As we are all aware, 2018 is Election year and as we progress towards the General Election, the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] is noting an increased number of announcements by Political Parties as well as expressions by individuals in the interest of taking up candidate positions in the Election.

We would like to make it clear that until and unless the Writ is issued and Nominations are received, no one is a Fijian Elections Office approved candidate. We have noted that various Parties have advertised provisional candidates, however I would like to clarify that there’s no such thing as an official provisional candidate in the law.

Nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen, following the announcement of various persons, various Parties are now picking up in terms of their funding raising activities and it is the Fijian Elections Office responsibility to highlight to the general public as well as interested persons and Parties the rules and the legal framework around Political Funding.

It is important to highlight at this point that following the General Audit of all Political Parties by the Office of the Auditor General, a common feature in reports for most of the Parties is that there is a lack of tracking in terms of records of revenue obtained by the Party.

This is because there are – at some occasions due to the nature of the Political Parties – monies received by individuals who are maybe provisional candidates as announced by the Parties, and as such they may receive money, carry out funding and not issue receipts from the Party or even themselves.

This is of course a problem when it comes to an individual because in one financial year, a person is only allowed to donate up to $10,000 to either one party or to many Parties up to a maximum of $10,000 only.

In that regard, if the person does not have receipts for monies donated, the individual may find themselves in some legal problems in the event the FEO receives a complaint, and is investigated.

Therefore, I will now read out the relevant provisions from the Political Parties Act to assist individuals, Party Agents, Party Officials and Political Parties themselves – in understanding the Political Funding framework so that the 2018 General Election in terms of political funding for them – is proper.

I would also like to mention that on page 12 [Section 3.2] of the Multinational Observer Group [MOG] Report, the MOG found that the Political Funding reporting requirements in Fiji were consistent with international best practice and therefore I urge all Parties, persons and individuals to comply with the relevant provisions regarding Political Funding and ensure that necessary declarations and disclosures are made as per the requirements of the law.

Thank you.