Election Commission comes up with online portal for parties to file financial statements

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Srinagar, 04 July (CNI): The Election Commission on Monday came up with an online portal to allow registered political parties file their financial statements, including contribution reports and poll expenditure accounts, a move seen as an effort to bring in more transparency in disclosures made by political entities.

The move is part of the poll panel’s “3C strategy” comprising clean up, crackdown and compliance to strengthen transparency and accountability in the political funding and expenditure on which it had been working for a year now under Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, sources said.

Political parties not intending to file the financial report through online mode will have to convey the reasons for not doing so in writing and may continue to file reports in hard copy format along with CDs or pen drive in the prescribed formats.

“The Commission will, in turn, publish all such reports online, along with a letter of justification sent by the party for not filing financial statements online,” the EC said in a statement.

In a letter to the political parties, the Commission said the step has been taken with twin objectives – to overcome difficulties in filing physical reports, and to ensure timely filing in a standardised format.

The portal will facilitate the online filing of Contribution Report, Audited Annual Account and Election Expenditure Statement by political parties.

These financial statements are required to be submitted by political parties to the Election Commission/Chief Electoral Officers of States/Union Territories, as per the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and transparency guidelines issued by the Commission, from time to time, over the last many years, the poll panel said.

“The online availability of data is expected to enhance the level of compliance and transparency. In the letter, the EC pointed to the pivotal position of political parties, and stressed that it is incumbent on them to adhere to the principles of democratic functioning and transparency in electoral processes, particularly in financial disclosures,” the statement said.

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