By Amir Makar
CAIRO: In a bid to tighten oversight of campaign funding, the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) created a sub-committee this week concerned solely with financial auditing of electoral campaign accounts.
In addition, the sub-committee is also tasked with evaluating campaign expenditure, checking sources of funding, ensuring compliance with legal procedures and issuing periodical reports about the candidates.
The PEC’s recently announced decree outlines its mandate on how to regulate campaign funding.
According to the decree, the source of candidates’ campaign spending is either their own appropriated money, support provided by their party of nomination, or individual financial or material donations.
Candidates are not permitted to receive any donations except from “natural Egyptian persons.”
Additionally, it is “absolutely prohibited to receive any direct or indirect donations or contributions from any legal entity, whether Egyptian or foreign, and from any country or foreign authority or international organization; or any entity whose capital is funded by a foreign person.”
The ban is also in force against any natural foreign donor.
The decree also stipulates that the value of material or financial donations and contributions received by a candidate cannot exceed LE 200,000 for pre-election campaigning, and LE 40,000 before the run-off.
Candidates must also open accounts in local currency at the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr or Banque du Caire, where funds must be deposited, regardless of sources.
They are then required to notify the PEC of the account details within a day of setting up the account, and also within 48 hours of making any financial deposits, detailing the source of the funds and where they will be spent within that period.
The same conditions are also imposed on parties which fielded candidates. Parties must notify the PEC of incoming donations exceeding LE 1,000 retrospectively, starting Feb. 24, 2012 until the date of the decree to be submitted within five days of the publication of its decree.
The decree also authorized candidates to appoint representatives to perform the necessary procedures, who will carry powers of attorney by registering at official notary offices, and presenting an official copy of the necessary documents to the PEC.
Violations of the decree will be penalized in accordance with the provisions of Law no. 174 of 2005 which regulates presidential elections. According to the PEC’s secretary-general Hatem Bagato, violations are punishable with between two to five years in prison, especially in case of foreign funding, in addition to disqualification of the candidate.
Bagato had announced earlier on Sunday night on the talk-show 90 Minutes, that the funding sub-committee’s composition would include himself, along with representatives of the Central Auditing Authority and the Egyptian Central Bank.
The sub-committee also includes other representatives from the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, the Administrative Control Authority, Public Funds Authority, the Ministry of Information, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union’s Economic Sector of ERTU, and the Local Development Authority.
Bagato also said that the ballot papers on voting day will contain the name of candidate, his/her electoral symbol, and a personal photograph.
The recent decree is the seventh to be published by PEC, following previous ones which amended PEC’s regulations, updated the registered voters’ database, regulated the mechanisms for citizens’ support for presidential candidates, regulated voting procedures for Egyptians abroad and reaffirmed the campaigning ban before the official starting date.
PEC announced further in an official press statement that the number of applicants who inquired about the procedures had reached 1274, and that it had revealed that 10 citizens had provided nomination proxies for more than one candidate, remarking that it notified the concerned authorities of the violations.
Regarding the presidential candidates, PEC had “denied ongoing rumours regarding the citizenship of a mother of one of the presidential applicants.”
Rumours had being circulating previously that the mother of candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail held dual US-Egyptian citizenship. The current constitutional declaration bars any individual, his/her spouse or parents from running for the presidency if they had held dual citizenship at any point in their lives.
PEC also announced that the ninth presidential candidate, Mahmoud Hossameddin Galal, had submitted his application including 30,000 citizen endorsements. The Committee officially denied that former intelligence chief and vice president Omar Soliman had applied.