The financial condition of the ruling PPP is unknown and its increasing reliance on donations opens it up to influence peddling.
In a column in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek, former PPP executive Ralph Ramkarran lamented that financial reports on the party have not been available for many years and therefore its finances remain a mystery.
He said that since he became a member of the PPP’s leading bodies in the early 1970s none of them has ever had a financial report despite the fact that a Secretary for Finance is elected at each congress. He adduced this as evidence that the current structure of the ruling party is “no longer effective, accountable and democratic.”
By contrast, he said that records of party congresses up to the 1960s show that a financial report was given by the Treasurer who, like other officers, was elected by and accountable to, the Congress.
Ramkarran, who had been a member of the party for nearly 50 years before resigning, says this state of affairs is evidence that the party structure instituted by way of its constitution in 1977 has “degenerated into a centralized mechanism with no accountability”.
He urged that reforms be put in place. The ruling party has a congress coming up in August which observers say would be considered one of the most important in its history in light of its significant loss of support at the last general elections and internal divisions. In his previous column, Ramkarran had accused the party of departing from the tenets of the working class ideology of the Jagans and falling under the influence of corrupt groups. The party has not yet responded to these accusations.
In his column in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek, Ramkarran called for changes to the Central Committee and other areas and homed in on the party’s financial accountability. He charged that very few in the party were aware of its finances.
“Except for perhaps two persons, the Central Committee is completely ignorant of the party’s financial condition. There are no reports of any sort made to anyone. No one knows the party’s income or expenditure, where its bank accounts are held, the amounts in those accounts, the value of its assets, or any other information that would be normal for members of an organization to have. At times when an internal auditor who is a trusted comrade is available, such audits take place. But no audited accounts have (ever) been shared. Since the party assumed office the contribution of fundraising to its income, the report of which was a highlight of the Congress in opposition days, has substantially reduced. It means that heavier reliance is placed on donations which brings with it increased influence (peddling).”
Numerous concerns have been raised in the past by members of the public about patronage to the ruling party from contractors and others seeking to curry favour with the administration. There have been calls for the finances of the political parties to be transparent and for this to be legislated.
Ramkarran added that “The institutionalization of sound financial practices will help to break down the culture of secrecy which surrounds the party and which may have been necessary at one time but which has, along with lack of democracy, centralization and other negative survivals, have become obstacles to the party’s growth into a modern, optimally functioning machine, unhindered by the past, capable of developing policies to deal with the present, restoring its ideals, shedding its entanglements, resisting the negative forces always ready to wield influence and attracting broad based support.”