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Saturday 18.01.2020 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Harmony would have lost large donations under new regulation this year

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUHad the new regulation on financing of political parties been adopted in Latvia this year, Harmony would have already exceeded the total permitted ceiling for financing and multiple other parties would have received considerably more donations than it would have been allowed under new rules, according to estimates from LETA.

Discussing planned amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Organisations, members of the ruling coalition in Latvia agreed on restrictions for maximum amounts any party is allowed to receive from the state and from private sponsors – in 2020 this amount could make up EUR 838 500 all together. It may increase along with minimal wages in the country.

Assuming the new order could have been adopted this year, a rough estimate of donations and state funding provided to parties by the end of September shows that political party Harmony would have exceeded permitted ceiling. This party would receive EUR 800 000 from the state. As for private donations, the party has already received EUR 177 588 – meaning EUR 977 588 in total. This means Harmony would have exceeded the allowed funding ceiling by EUR 139 088.

As for the other parties have been elected to the 13th Saeima, the largest amount of received funding belongs to the Union of Greens and Farmers – EUR 734 717, followed by New Conservative Party with EUR 707 517.

The planned amendments also provide for a considerable limit on private donations.

It is planned that parties that have made it to the Saime will be allowed to receive no more than EUR 2 150 in donations from a single person in 2020 and EUR 2 500 in 2021. Justice Ministry explains that limits will also prevent private persons from donating the maximum amount both to party unions and parties that are part of unions.

Read also: Funding for parties: is state pocket money enough for Latvian parties?

Information published by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) shows that multiple parties that have made it to the Saeima have received finances in private donations that would exceed the limits set by the new order. For example, party union Attīstībai/Par! received a total of 18 donations that exceed EUR 2 150, and their total amount reaches EUR 171 500. Nine of those donations were given to the party union and nine others to Latvijas attīstībai party.

New Unity has received 20 donations that exceed the next year’s permitted EUR 2 150. The total amount of money the party has received in donations is EUR 136 510. 17 of those donations were given to Unity and three others to the party union.

State budget funding for political parties is allocated for four years – the entire period of the elected Saeima’s term.

Payments are performed four times a year – by 15 January, 15 April, 15 July and 15 October – to the account registered in a Latvian credit institution.

Last week, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee submitted to the parliament amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Parties that provide for significantly increasing state funding for political parties, allocating EUR 4 million for this.

The legislative draft provides for allocating state budget funding for political parties that had received more than 2% of votes in previous Saeima elections. For each received vote parties are to be paid EUR 4.5. For each vote received in European Parliament or municipal elections parties are to be paid EUR 0.5.

On top of that, political parties that receive votes from more than 5% of voters in Saeima elections would receive annual state budget funding of EUR 100 000.

There are also restrictions planned – maximum state budget funding for a single political party must not exceed EUR 800 000 a year.

In accordance with planned changes to the aforementioned law, Harmony will receive EUR 800 000 from the state budget next year, KPV LV will receive EUR 643 369, New Conservative Party – EUR 626 420, Attīstība/Par! – EUR 586 964, National Alliance «All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK» – EUR 557 129, Union of Greens and Farmers – EUR 489 163, and New Unity – EUR 416 535.

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