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Parties reveal costs of election campaigns

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Grassroots Democratic Party take part in a parade to kick off the campaign period on July 10. Pha Lina

Parties reveal costs of election campaigns

AS voting day on July 29 inches closer, political parties have begun revealing their election budgets. While most parties claim the bulk of their funding came from donations, a leader from election watchdog Nicfec said greater transparency was required.

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) revealed that it spent $300,000 during the campaign, while the League for Democracy Party (LDP) claims it spent $3 million.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) declined to give an exact figure but said funding came from its members’ donations. Funcinpec leaders also declined to reveal its election spending.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Tuesday that none of his party’s funds came from government coffers, but from the 200 riel ($0.05) fee that his party’s 5.5 million members paid monthly.

“Officials at any level, as long as they are party members, must pay 200 riel per month. If not, they cannot continue their political lives with the party. It’s normal, 200 riel from each member. We have 5.5 million members, so you do the maths and you will ascertain our budget,” he said.

Eysan declined to disclose the party’s budget for this year as the campaign period wasn’t over yet.

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Cambodian People’s Party activists participating in its rally on July 10 in the capital. Heng Chivoan

GDP secretary-general Sam Inn estimated that his party spent around $300,000 while campaigning and that all its funding came from “contributions and donations” from members.

“Election campaign expenses in the capital and some provinces amount to between $5,000 and $30,000. It came from party contributions and was spent on printing pamphlets, shirts, hats, car rentals, gasoline, water and food,” he said.

LDP president Khem Veasna said this week that his party’s roughly $3 million budget was from donations and that its Phnom Penh rally cost $1.5 million while events in Siem Reap cost a total of $40,000.

“The money did not come from our headquarters but party supporters’ contributions,” he said.

Funcinpec lawmaker and spokesperson Nheb Bun Chhin said he could not reveal the total amount spent on the election campaign as yet, but that each province spent between $70,000 and $150,000, depending on what they could raise.

“We have a budget plan for spending, but no actual money to spend, so we need to raise money together. Some provinces needed $150,000, while others needed only $100,000. Compared with other parties, we spend less than what they do for a single commune.”

Election watchdog Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Nicfec) director Sam Kuntheamy said some parties spent three or four million, while others claimed they spent $200,000 to $300,000.

“We just want to know if their expenses are balanced or not,” he said.

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