FijiFirst saves up $1.95m cash after impressive fundraising year
The Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama juggernaut may become unstoppable if it outspends opponents in the lead up to the 2018 General Elections.
Cash is king, and there is a huge disparity in the holdings of the main political parties in Fiji, according to audited accounts published by the elections office yesterday.
At the end of 2016, FijiFirst had a whopping $1.95m in their bank account, Social Democratic Liberal Party $71k, while National Federation Party managed to save $3626.
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka estimated his party would need $1.7 million for the 2018 campaign.
FijiFirst pulled in more than $1.28m, while SODELPA and NFP had revenue of $317k and $100k respectively.
The main source of FijiFirst’s revenue was donations ($795k) and Parliament ($480k).
Each party receives $15,000 per parliamentarian as a grant. FijiFirst (32 MPs) received $480,000, SODELPA (19 MPs) $225,000, and NFP (3 MPs) $45,000 from Parliament under this scheme.
SODELPA pulled in contributions worth $83k, while NFP’s strong membership base donated almost $54k.
Parties spent a lot of money on wages, salaries, and allowances; FijiFirst $106,499, SODELPA spent $110,448, and NFP $48,531.
All three parties employ the full-time staff and are required to have offices around Fiji.
FijiFirst recorded $62,250 classified as “Social Media Expense”.
The ruling party has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and it is possible the figure included updates to their website and other IT support. It is believed a private firm manages its social media presence.
Other political parties
The other registered parties in Fiji are Fiji Labour Party, People’s Democratic Party, and Fiji United Freedom Party. One Fiji Party was deregistered earlier this year.
As these parties were not represented in Parliament, they had minimal financial transactions last year.
FLP had an income of $5051, PDP $699, and FUFP $400. The parties did not have any significant expenses.
Source of funds
Only individuals are allowed to donate to political parties in Fiji, and they can only donate a maximum of $10,000. Companies, NGOs, and foreign individuals and organisations are not allowed to contribute.
The law requires the elections office to publish the “amount and sources of the donations given” to each party. Audited accounts have been published three times since 2014, but it is unclear who contributed such large sums to the parties.
The Fijian Elections Office has published some requirements for political parties on their website:
- Political parties may only be funded only by membership fees and contributions from individuals, and all sources of funding must be disclosed.
- No funding may come from foreign governments or non-government organisations.
- No funding can come from companies, nor can they provide services such as transport and accommodation, free or discount advertising or goods and services of any kind.
- All spending on election campaigns must be declared.
- Any political office bearer must make a declaration of income and assets on behalf of themselves, their spouse and any children. This includes total assets – including money and property – in Fiji and abroad – along with their business interests, directorships and gifts. Any liabilities must also be listed.
- Any election candidates must also make a declaration of income and assets in Fiji and abroad on behalf of themselves, their spouses and children and also list their liabilities. All these declarations will be published in the Government Gazette.
- Thirty days before the general election, each political party must list its assets and liabilities and submit it to the Registrar, who will publish the information.
- Any political party must keep proper books, and these will be audited by a certified auditor and published in the Government Gazette.