Increasing voluntary contributions

The election commission’s decision to increase the voluntary contribution ceiling to political parties is hazardous to the health of our fledgling democracy (read ECB’s notification).

It’s hazardous because increasing the amount that members can contribute will strengthen the two existing parties, and place any future party at a big disadvantage.

It’s hazardous because increasing the voluntary contribution ceiling by 500% to Nu 500,000 per member per year disproportionately favors one party – the ruling party, DPT, which also enjoys an overwhelming majority. To be sure, even a ceiling of Nu 100,000 favours DPT more than PDP, but that ceiling was established before the elections, and both parties were fully aware of the rules. Changing the rules now, in the middle of the game so to speak, risks bolstering one party unfairly.

And it’s very hazardous because only a handful of Bhutanese can afford to make voluntary contributions of Nu 500,000 per year. Naturally, big money, from those few hands, will influence politics that much more, defeating the whole purpose of defining a ceiling in the first place.

If increasing the voluntary contribution ceiling is not good for a healthy and vibrant democracy, ECB should reconsider the decision.

 

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  1. I fully support OL that this increase of VC from 100,000 to 500,000 is only going to strengthen the two Political parties and more so the DPT. This is therefore not a recommended approach or decision that ECB should be taking at this moment unless there are hidden agendas behind between the ECB chief and the DPT chief.
    We would like to see more parties coming in to have more choice in the future election and the decision of the ECB increasing VC will make the existing parties more strong depriving new parties to come in. Moreover, this increase in VC by 500 percent is going to shake the good foundation of democracy that we have established with so much of effort. As we know in Bhutan there are very few people who contribute Nu. 5 lakh as VC, there is a danger that these people can influence the whole democratic settings which is what Bhutan do not like to experience.

    Lets live by the good democratic example that we have shown to the world. And, finally I am wondering if such decision can be taken by ECB independently Or is it a order from the PM.

  2. This is not good, not good at all.
    If there is a ceiling, it should make sense in a way that the majority of the people can afford to contribute. It can affect both sides of the party in the same way.Like you mentioned, a handful of the people will now buy a big political influence in our country.
    There is also a risk that the able handfull will buy the Political party with the minority voters. The PDP is having a hard time making ends meet. Now, with the ceiling lifted unreasonably, let’s only hope the able handful will not buy the Party. I am sure when a business tycoon in our society contributes, he would expect something in return. The PDP on the other hand, is in dire need of money. We can only imagine what other consequences it will carry from there on.
    What is with this sudden jump to Big Figures in our country anyway?
    Are the policy makers forgetting that the majority of the populace is fighting for basic survival needs? Do they even care about the low income group?
    First, they hike up the civil servents’pay beyond unreasonable limits. Now they are addressing the corporate workers. Let’s hope they will not forget the pvt sectors. How will the small scale businesses like workshops, sawmills, hotels,beauty saloons, etc.. give a 35% pay hike to their employees? Hasn’t the government created a big income gap already?
    Let’s see how they fight Inflation when it shoots up their nose. I think a private employee with a pay scale of Nu.4500/month is not economically viable anymore in the country.
    I understand the government has some money. Why can’t they use it wisely? Build infrastructure! Build Roads! Give water supply to the remote villages! It’s the Bhutanese money anyway, and it should benifit all equally. The world is coming to a turmoil with the global economy in recession. Has the government laid out some preperation work should the worst hit us? (God forbid it)
    The recent news has it that some international investor is planting hazelnuts in the country. This is good news. But is it really that good?I think it means that the farmers are tied from selling their products to the same firm for generations and not have the right to explore other potentail markets.Was it time bound.. meaning, was there a time frame as to how long the farmers had to sell the products to the same firm? What if the government invested in it instead?
    I am not a financial expert.. Just my opinion.

    Thank you.

  3. Karma Dorji says:

    I am frequent visitor of the site, and i find the articles very interesting, and it is updated often. I have posted this post of yours in our Bhutanese Community website in Perth, http://www.drukpas.net ofcourse with your kind permission only.

    Thanks
    Karma

  4. Bhutanese Blogger says:

    I cannot refrain from comparing our parties with the current financial crisis that the world’s financial institutions are in:

    1. Our parties are cash-strapped and so are the global banks (capital strapped)

    2. Banks used a lot of debt and spent what they didnt’t have like our parties.

    3. The banks are seeking more injection of capital from investors and the governments while our parties want more contributions from their members.

    4. Risk management processes at the banks were flawed/inept as were the management of resources (funds) by our parties.

    5. Finally a difference – banks didn’t see the financial crisis coming because of the complexity of financial markets and the instruments (although in hind-sight it is easy to see that there were clear signs). But our political parties knew how much they could raise and spend. To overspend by millions is an egregious display of carelessness and ineptness.

    There are no good reasons to increase this contribution. The parties should have been left to dig themselves out of the mess they are in. Rescuing by changing rules such as this is setting a bad precedence.

  5. CV Madhukar says:

    Dear Tshering,
    In the US, there is a strict ceiling on how much a single individual or company can contribute to political parties and I think it has worked reasonably well for them. I agree with you that very high limits (or no limits) on individual contributions to political parties can be detrimental to fairness in the policy process.

    However, the challenge will be at whatever ceiling level, to ensure that there are no other proxy ways in which people can bypass the system.

    Thanks for your post on an important issue for all democracies.

    CV Madhukar

  6. Not at all good. i think the anti corruption should seriously look into this matter. Both the parties are cash straved, but whos fault is it. I would blame both of them, both parties have been too asha pasa during the campgain giving lunch, soera etc. now is it the duty for ecb to bail them out, by incresing the amount. I think ecb is not following the words of our wise king. If such decision is taken on behalf of one or two parties than i think than one day our childrens would use the trem DPT Dynesty.

  7. I am still wondering how DPT spent so much? They never fed grand lunch saying they are a poor party and cannot afford. Today when their bill is mountain high I am aghast!!!Bhutanese politics is not based on MONEY I would like to think. Did money work in the last election?

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