New Delhi : India and five other South Asian nations have endorsed a joint declaration to not only limit overall private funding to political parties but also to clamp down on existing “loopholes” governing political finance in their respective jurisdictions.

The 18-point resolution has been drafted to combat the menace of black money and other illegal inducements used during the electoral process in these countries but it would require further consultations and sanctions from the political parties and governments before final guidelines are issued.

For India, the Election Commission yesterday signed a “historic” joint record of discussions called the ‘New Delhi Declaration 2015’ in this regard with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi saying it will go “a long way” in further evolving the political finance practices by the electoral management bodies working in the South Asian region.

The two-day regional conference on the ‘Use of Money in Politics and Its Effects on People’s Representation’ ended yesterday and was jointly organised by the EC and Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), an inter-governmental organisation working to strengthen democratic processes, especially elections in a democracy.

An official statement issued at the end of the conference said the participants came forward together and laid out a draft declaration.

“To ensure that the citizen remains at the heart of a democracy and not the interests of large donors, it is reasonable to limit the amount of private funding that an individual or corporation may donate. Anonymous donations should be strictly regulated and if not banned outright, then should be limited to an amount that is considered acceptable and not at risk of unduly influencing the political process.

“There should be a cap on individual and total donations. Donations should not be allowed from foreign citizens and foreign entities… strict vigilance must be exercised on the possibility of quid-pro-quo between donors and political parties,” the declaration said.

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