Poll contestants required to declare financial history

The election authorities have decided to add a number of new columns to nomination forms that every candidate is required to submit before taking part in the elections – with a focus on their financial history for the past three years.
In a step aimed to ensure transparency in the electoral process, the election authorities decided that every candidate would be required to submit details of his or her income for the past three years and declare its sources.
The candidates would also be required to attach copies of their tax returns for this period.
Sher Afgan, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s general elections director, told reporters on Tuesday that contestants would also be required to mention a bank account used for all election expenses. The candidates would be required to maintain and submit receipts of all this spending.
Currently, there is no such practice in place. Under the prevailing laws, a National Assembly candidate can spend up to Rs1.5 million, while a provincial seat contestant can spend up to one million rupees. The ECP has proposed to increase this limit for which a bill in already pending in Parliament.
Other new columns to be inserted in the nomination forms include those for details of all dependent children and spouses, travel history of the past three years, details of public welfare during the past three years and details of any children studying abroad.
Another important column seeks information from every candidate on whether they paid their party to get a ticket and if so, how much.
Furthermore, in case the candidate is already a member of the outgoing assemblies, he or she would be required to submit details of development projects they carried out in their constituencies.
14 days for scrutiny
DG Sher Afgan has said that if the departments cooperate with district returning officers in providing the information they need for the scrutiny of nomination papers, 14 days would be enough. This time period has been proposed by the parliamentary committee on election matters.
According to Afgan, the role of the State Bank of Pakistan in providing details of loan defaulters and those who had their loans written off in the past would be important. Similarly, the Federal Board of Revenue would also be required to provide details of taxes paid by contestants and verify details given by candidates in their nominations.
Fake degree holders barred
Today you do not need to have a degree to be able to legally stand in the elections. This requirement was introduced by former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf and it applied during the 2008 general elections. Now, all those whose degrees have been proven fake in court will be barred from taking part in the next polls.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/509848/poll-contestants-required-to-declare-financial-history/

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