PIP proposes elimination of gov’t subsidies to parties, candidates
SAN JUAN – In line with its long-standing proposal, the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) proposed Monday the elimination of all government subsidies to political parties and candidates for elected positions.
Following Gov. Ricardo Rosselló having sent a bill to the Legislative Assembly to eliminate the use of the Electoral Fund for political parties to pay administrative expenses, PIP spokesman Sen. Juan Dalmau said that eliminating the subsidy is a correct but insufficient initiative.
“If we really want to respond to the reality of the country’s current economic and fiscal crisis, we must not only eliminate the Electoral Fund, but also eliminate the multimillion-dollar matching system for financing political campaigns and voter transportation subsidies for election events,” the independence party’s secretary general and former electoral commissioner told Caribbean Business.
Dalmau said the governor’s legislative initiative should have others added, such as reducing and restricting the private contributions of individuals and corporations to political parties and campaigns; prohibiting contractors or board members of contracting companies from donating money to parties and candidates; reducing the election campaign period in the media and using public radio and TV (WIPR) as a means of educating citizens about the programmatic information of parties.
The pro-independence legislator told Caribbean Business that if these measures are not adopted, “not only will the saving of public funds be very limited, but also the government party will receive, without oversight or restrictions, exorbitant political contributions, which is the seed of government corruption,” he said.
Rosselló this week presented a bill to eliminate the government’s contribution to the electoral fund, from which political parties benefit in their administrative expenses. The measure is in line with the budget the Legislature must approve in the coming days.
Referring the measure to the Legislative Assembly, Rosselló said “the budget for the next fiscal year does not contemplate allocations to political parties from the electoral fund.”
The bill presented by the governor’s office seeks to amend Act 222-2011, or the Law for Puerto Rico Political Campaign Financing Oversight, provides that each political party receive $400,000 during non-election years and $600,000 in election years for administrative expenses. This resulted in a fiscal burden of more than $1.6 million in 2016, and $1.2 million this year.
The executive branch’s bill does not affect other funds allocated for political campaigns, a matter that could be discussed later, La Fortaleza said.
“The budget being evaluated has focused on protecting and ensuring that government services to the most vulnerable continue to be offered. In these times of sacrifices for all and fiscal crisis, there is no justification for the government to subsidize the parties’ administrative expenses. The sacrifice and efficiencies we are achieving must be reflected in all government spending,” Rosselló said.