FIJI NEWS

$1mil to fight poll: Party

By ROSI DOVIVERATA The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) estimates it will need $1 million to fight in coming elections the way it wants. Party spokesperson Nirmal Singh said they were
06 Jan 2014 09:16

By ROSI DOVIVERATA

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) estimates it will need $1 million to fight in coming elections the way it wants.
Party spokesperson Nirmal Singh said they were counting on their supporters to help with party finances.
Since the party registered, party executives had been forking money out of their own pockets, he said.
“But this can only go so far.”

Goodwill
Mr Singh said people are out there showing their support for PDP.
“To raise that money is not easy but we have that goodwill there so we are going to ride on that goodwill.”
A membership drive is expected to take place soon.
With individual contributions limited to only $10,000 as stipulated in the Political Parties Decree, PDP plans to work within these boundaries.
“We have challenges, there is no doubt about it and finances is one of them and the Political Parties decree restricts and controls political parties’ ability to raise funds.
“That puts us in a dilemma but we will raise funds within the confines of the decree – we have massive support out there and people have indicated they will help us out,” Mr Singh said.

Single constituency
The cost estimates by the PDP are a glimpse of what a party might need to campaign fully throughout the country under the single constituency system.
That is unless they strategically focus their campaign efforts.

Not cheap
“Running for an election is not cheap – but given the network of support that we have throughout the country and the way people are coming back to us with support is overwhelming.”
Mr Singh said that like the United States of America’s Presidential election, the Bainimarama government could give out a certain percentage of funds to political parties.
“When you put a restriction in one area of raising funds then government should make sure they create a level playing field and all political parties should be allocated a certain level of funds to conduct the elections so that no one is disadvantaged.
“Frank is already riding on a campaign trail now. You note every speech that he is giving out is a campaign speech and that is fine. We’ve seen it in the past and previous governments have done that and we have no qualms about it,” Mr Singh said.
“The government does not have to take the money out from the taxpayers’ funds, we don’t want to touch people’s funds.”
He said the international community was there and is willing to assist with funds to ensure a level playing field was created for all parties.

Make public
Another way to ensure that transparency is maintained for those who contribute to political parties is to publish their names and the amount they contribute.
“I don’t think Fiji has reached that level of maturity politically where funders can just come in and contribute,” Mr Singh said.

Candidates
After the party’s annual convention in early February, the party will be calling for expressions of interest.
“We want to keep the selection process very transparent.
There will be a committee which will be appointed by the national delegates to look at the candidates, to look at their profiles and vet them.”
The party maintains that a minimum of 30 per cent women and youth will make up the 50 candidates for the polls.
Criteria
Mr Singh said PDP’s criteria were very simple – he or she who deserves will get it.
“Money will not decide who will get the party ticket. It will not be a factor. For us we have always promised a new political order in this country.
“A new generation of leaders and that is where our focus is going to be.”
A mix of both experience and youth is expected in the PDP’s lineup.

Different
From their work on the field, Mr Singh said the voting public in this election was different.
“People understand what is going on. I have a strong feeling that most people have already made their decision about whom they are going to vote for.”
With the majority of the voting public between 18 to 35 years of age, Mr Singh said these included those who subscribe to democracy, human rights and rule of law.
“No matter how many speeches you give out now, no matter the level of campaign you carry out, advertising or campaign strategy – I think all the political parties need to do is to be very genuine and be very up-front with voters and walk your talk. That is very important.”
He said flowery speeches would not work anymore.
“Now we have a more learned voting public.”

Issues
Like any new party, the PDP has had its fair share of teething problems, but all that has been sorted out, Mr Singh said.
“We are handling issues within the party, there are differing views and that is expected in any new party.
“But at the end of the day we will deliver what we have promised the people. That is our driving force.”

Manifesto
The February convention will also see the launch of the party’s manifesto.
By then, all the branches around the country would be up and running, Mr Singh said.
“From this week we will be releasing our policies on the military forces – strong policies and issues that affect the people of this country.”

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Nirmal Singh. Photo: JUSTINE MANNAN




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