As matters stand money makes political parties walk the talk. If there is no abrupt change to the prevailing system the process of democracy will be undermined. Every political party needs a war chest but we cannot put the finger on the windpipe of entities or individuals to swell the coffer. I hope that the Good Governance and Integrity Bill which has been approved by Parliament will meet its objectives and not be a political tool to pull the trigger finger. We must remember that a flawed system gives comparative advantage to major political parties and unfair benefit to parties in power. Political leaders have to find ways and means to ask for contribution to meet legitimate or illegitimate expenditures. They pull the purse strings and exercise due or undue influences on the party . They are at the command and control because they have lock, stock and barrel. There is therefore a clarion call for a game changer. There is no blame game and we should all take the flak despite commitment from all political parties to the setting up of institutional and legislative framework on Financing. However, the purpose has to be honest. Codes of Good Governance for best electoral practices are not sufficient. We need a comprehensive legislation. I am glad to hear that new legislation on Declaration of Assets is in the pipeline but the need to have a Register to declare Gifts should be mandatory. Declaration of Assets cannot be restrictive but fully prescriptive hence all foreign accounts or property acquired overseas should be disclosed. If we want to bring sanity in real politics let us not bend the rules even if some are tempted to bend them like Beckham. The joy of it all is that every Mauritian is fully on board and we take note of a petition being circulated for signature by Parlement Populaire on the merits of Free, Fair and Clean Elections. Parlement Populaire requests the setting up of a Commission and makes the following recommendations: a) Compulsory registration of Political Parties. b) Properly audited accounts. c) Compulsory declaration of Expenditures during Electoral Campaigns and Elections d) To guarantee equal opportunities at Elections in terms of Visibility of Political Parties and their programs during electoral campaign. We are receptive to the legitimate request of the Civil Society and we have to break new frontiers. Therefore wide powers have to be vested in the Electoral Commission and Commissioner, to be forcefully exercised, from dissolution of Parliament till results are official. These vested powers have to be bundled with legislation on Funding of political parties. Select Committee on Funding We recall that a Select Committee on Funding of Political Parties in Mauritius was appointed by the Speaker on the 7th of May of 2002. The Select committee, an emanation of the report submitted by Professor Albie Sachs on Constitutional and Electoral reform, was chaired by the Former Attorney General Emmanuel Leung Shing. The object was to make further recommendations on the subject of Funding of Political Parties "with a view to promoting sound, dynamic and lively democracy and eliminating the risks of corruption and influence peddling." Draft Bill The draft bill on Funding of Political Parties was prepared by Sachs Commission and it provides for the establishment of a Fund which will receive funds appropriated by Parliament and other such funds which it may lawfully receive. Such funds will be administered by the Electoral Supervisory Commission which shall allocate money on specific criteria to political parties and one of these take into account fair representation of women in the National Assembly. Although the draft bill concerns only public funding Sachs recommended that Companies should only be allowed to make donations in favour of political parties through the Fund as created by law. Under existing legislation, nothing prevents any party from spending millions to promote its candidates. Sachs recommended that "lavish overspending by any political party should henceforth invalidate the election of its candidates just as lavish overspending by any candidate exposes his/ her election to the danger of declared null and void." Mechanisms to restrict campaign expenditure have to be put in place as the escalating cost of ELECTIONEERING is a killing field. If there is no red line each Candidate at the next General Election will have to spend at least Rs 3 million. The draft bill makes provision for Registration of Political Parties by the Electoral Commission under the National Assembly Elections Regulations. Corporate Status Registered political party will acquire Corporate Status and will have to comply with stringent requirements concerning its accounts. Parties would have to function in a transparent manner, "without secret headquarters, secret structures, secret personnel and secret sources of fund". Even provision for implementation of Anti-defection clause is made. National Crusade Let us all put our best endeavour and make clean Elections our National Crusade. The cause is legitimate and what is legitimate should be legal. Since the account of the Labour Party has been forcibly made public all political parties have a strong moral and fiduciary obligation to declare their assets and liabilities. In a spirit of good governance and integrity reporting, disclosure of the name of the Trustees of Sun Trust should be circulated. I hope there would be no need to submit an application for a Disclosure Order to forcibly obtain the information through a Sworn Affidavit and we know for certain that a Civil Case may mutate to a criminal case if false Affidavit is made. Who rightly says that the demarcation line between civil and criminal is thin and blurred? It's good to recall that each time MSM is in Government Sun Trust reaps unexpected windfall gains. Who gave instructions to ICAC to release the Rs 144,7 millions in respect of the sale of the century to Government ? Who are the sole beneficiaries of the sale of Medpoint clinic, perhaps the trustees of Sun Trust will volunteer to disclose? Why did the Government of the day refuse to take a stand against Sun Trust when the case went for hearing? And since there was no defendant the judge had to adjudicate in favour of Sun Trust and a hefty sum of about Rs 45 million credited to its account with courtesy of the State in January 2004. Of course the contract between Sun Trust and the State was airtight. SAJ acknowledged in an intervention in Parliament that the MSM obtained party funding from shady characters. On a motion on Drug Addiction and Trafficking (3rd May 1994) for the Setting up of Select Committee SAJ stated "in those days Government House was wide open and more accessible to certain persons who were suspected to be involved in drug trafficking." These are statements of fact and no matter how often our national TV shows money tumbling from the safe of Dr Navin Ramgoolam the problem will not be resolved unless all political parties pledge to address the issue frontally without fear or prejudice. We want nobody to be at the receiving end when the Cogwheel turns and comes full circle otherwise a commission of inquiry into funding of SunTrust would be inevitable. Now is the time. Time to act and disclosure of existing funds of political parties should be mandatory if we want to make a clean sweep. The field has to be leveled and all existing contributions will have to be credited to a Common Public Fund. Let me conclude by appealing to all that relevant findings are available and Government should set up a panel of resource persons to redraft the bill to make it more responsive to our political needs. The will of the people is acquired and let us make the electoral environment conducive to the prosperity of a truly democratic nation.