Macedonia to Make Political Party Finances Public

Macedonian political parties will have a harder time keeping their finances out of the public eye if the country, as planned, soon adopts a new law on public information access that would get rid of many legal loopholes allowing parties to keep such data hidden.

The draft law will be presented for public debate and then for voting within the next two weeks, the Justice Ministry told BIRN.

"We just need to define a few more things, like the penal regulations, and then the law will be put out for public evaluation," the ministry said.

The law is aimed to drastically ease public access to information and increase institutional transparency, the ministry said.

It comes after many complaints that the existing legislation offers legal loopholes enabling parties to hide or delay the disclosure of data.

One key change will be that for the first time, political parties will be obliged to disclose their financial data, such as their incomes and expenditures. The deadlines for institutions and parties to answer to such requests will also be shortened, from 30 to 20 days.

Dance Danailovska, senior coordinator at the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia, who is a member of the working group preparing the draft law, said that another key novelty is that the new law will contain a much stricter definition of what the public interest is.

This "was not specified in the old law, thus leaving possibilities for different interpretations, even for refusing to disclose some public information", Danailovska told BIRN.

Danailovksa said that in the new law, it is also important for the Commission for Public Information Access to be able to launch procedures against institutions who prevent the right to free access.

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