Industry wants law on corporate funding of elections

December 21st, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) There should be a legislation for funding elections through budgetary allocations and making corporate and individual donations legal and transparent, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has said. In a paper titled ‘Funding of the Political Parties for Election Purposes’, the industry association said corporate donations to political parties must be rational and exercised only under intimation to market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and the income-tax department to help companies get incentives like tax exemptions.

Assocham president Sajjan Jindal submitted the proposal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week.

“Market regulator Sebi, however, should impose a certain ceiling on corporates’ net profit for extension of such donations to political parties of their choices to prevent them exceed the prescribed limit for any motive,” Assocham said.

According to it, all corporate entities should be enabled to donate for electoral purposes to political parties of their choice. “A ceiling on the net profit for such purpose could be set but all listed corporations should inform Sebi about the donations they intend to make,” it added.

“The respective corporate boards should approve all such donations. Unlisted corporations and partnerships should inform the IT department about their decisions to contribute with a provision that these be published. In one sweep this alone would cleanse our public life, help businesses to resist pressure for unaccounted donations and enable public to know who is financing whom,” the report said.

Also, political parties must be compelled by law to publish every week donations received from corporates and the public.

The chamber said parties should also give a consolidated list of donors within three months of the end of the election process, and all individual donations exceeding Rs.100,000 should be open to public scrutiny.

Similar steps have also been recommended for state level elections, the paper added.

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