The up-to-date disclosures concerning political party funding together with supplements are correct in essential respects and provide correct information on the financial support received by the monitored entities in essential respects. The National Audit Office verifies that all disclosers file the disclosures required under the Act on Political Parties.
The Act on Political Parties contains mandatory provisions aimed at promoting the transparency of funding for political parties and party associations.
The aim of provisions is to increase the transparency of party funding, particularly taking into consideration the recommendations made to Finland by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). According to the recommendations, the public should have adequate information on the funding of parties’ basic activities and election campaigns so that the possible ties can be evaluated.
The National Audit Office monitors compliance with the provisions in the Act on Political Parties concerning financial support, the disclosure of election campaign costs and funding and the preparation and submission of related documents by monitored entities. From the beginning of 2016, the National Audit Office has also been responsible for supervising the party subsidies referred to in the Act on Political Parties.
Financial statements for 2015 of political parties, associations referred to in a party subsidy decision and entities affiliated with a party have been sent to the electronic party funding register.
Contributions totalling almost 17.9 million euros received by parties, party associations and affiliated entities were reported to the party funding register as updated payments between 2011 and 2016.
Contributions totalling more than 2.3 million euros were reported during 2016. The contributions disclosed for the year 2015 total more than 3.6 million euros; for the year 2014 more than 3.2 million euros; for the year 2013 almost 2.8 million euros; for the year 2012 more than 3.2 million euros; and for the year 2011 almost 2.7 million euros. The information supplementing the disclosures also apply to earlier years so that the additions made during 2016 totalled about 0.4 million euros (for 2015) and about 0.1 million euros (for 2012 and 2011 each). Some of the information supplementing the disclosures are the result of audits of political party funding conducted during the past five years.
A total of 48 audits of political party funding were conducted in the monitored parties and their district and women’s organisations in 2016. On the basis of the audits, the up-to-date disclosures concerning political party funding together with supplements are correct in essential respects and provide correct information on the financial support received by the monitored entities in essential respects.
All political parties represented in Parliament and the affiliated entities reported by them, as well as their district and women’s organisations were audited at least once between 2012 and 2016. District organisations that have ceased operations and parties entered in the Party Register that were not represented in Parliament were also audited during the period. A total of 160 audits of political party funding were conducted between 2012 and 2016.
The auditors discovered a number of cases where the recipient had not always filed up-to-date disclosures of the contributions that it had received. As in the previous audits, it was found out that it is not possible to obtain a reliable overall picture of party funding simply by examining income funding and the proceeds entered in to the financial statements. The audited political parties and other entities have many kinds of accounting transactions that are regarded as pass-through items. Determining their content nevertheless has significance from the perspective of financial support as referred to in the Act on Political Parties.
Monitored entities’ accounting has as a rule been managed properly so that monitoring compliance with the provisions in the Act on Political Parties has been possible on the basis of the accounts. The National Audit Office also points out that under the Accounting Act, all organisations obliged to keep accounts must keep their accounts up to date. Attention should be paid to the documentation of loans, agreements and contracts, keeping and itemisation of accounting records, as well as the processing of petty cash, membership fees and accounting errors. The itemisation of election campaign costs and funding should be traceable from bookkeeping and other accounts and should be reconcilable with them.
As in previous years, there were again inadequacies in the manner in which the monitored entities had elected their auditors and prepared their auditor’s reports. Authorised auditors have not always been elected as auditors. Neither have the auditors always included the statements required under section 9 c of the Act on Political Parties in the auditor’s reports. Contributions violating the restrictions referred to in section 8 b of the Act on Political Parties were also discovered in the audit.