But not one political party submits its records to audit. In fact, this lack of transparency has meant that we are still unaware of the number of members in a party, their fund-raising sources, how they manage their finances and their expenditures.
Legally, all parties have to submit annual financial records to the Election Commission but no one does it. "Parties have repeatedly ignored our request for audited statements," says EC spokesperson Laxman Bhattarai. During the CA elections, EC had given permission to each political party to raise up to Rs 460,000 without disclosing the source of income. But the commission has no idea whether the parties adhered to this requirement.
Civil society activist Devendra Raj Pandey says that Nepali political parties must practice transparency. "The parties shouldn't trick the citizens of this country," he adds.
Insiders say the Maoist need more than Rs 2 billion every year. The party says it raises the money from membership fees. Maoist office secretary Keshab Nepal says: "Since we gained a majority by winning peoples trust, we are trying to be more transparent." He says that although the Maoists are the largest party, has the smallest budget.
The UML also claims that its main source of income is membership fees. But it is difficult to believe that parties like UML and the Maoist with 100,000 members each can function purely on fees. UML member Astha Laxmi Shakya says her party is very transparent and its party congress reviews a statement of accounts. The NC doesn't have a membership fee and runs solely on donations and doesn't keep open accounts.
The big parties have given CA seats to the people from the business community instead of their own members, raising questions about the nexus between politics and business.