CDC weighs vetting party platforms

CDC weighs vetting party platforms

Norachit says clause to avoid populism abuse

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) is considering introducing a charter clause that requires political parties to present their election campaign platforms for examination to ensure they are fiscally responsible and transparent.

"The idea behind examining policy platforms is to make sure campaign promises made by political parties will not compromise fiscal discipline later on," CDC spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni said.

"The party platforms will also be used as evidence if irregularities surface later," he added.

The CDC spokesman said the idea is in line with Section 35 of the interim charter, which requires the drafting panel to address 11 issues, including the spending accountability of state funds.

However, Mr Norachit said the criteria that will be used to scrutinise the party manifestos need to be discussed further.

A new body might be established to do the job, otherwise the existing ones — such as the National Economic and Social Development Board or the Office of Auditor General — will be assigned, he said.

He pointed out that the CDC is not trying to block so-called populist policies, but to prevent the abuse of populism to win votes. In the past this adversely affected fiscal discipline and resulted in long-term economic damage to the country, he said.

According to Mr Norachit, the CDC will appoint three advisers for the supervisory body: Jade Donavanik, Somkid Lertpaitoon and Kanchanarat Leewiroj.

Mr Jade is a former member of the previous CDC chaired by Borwornsak Uwanno while Ms Kanchanarat was a secretary to the Borwornsak committee. Mr Somkid served as a secretary to the charter writing panel in 2007.

Mr Norachit said they had not decided if the advisers will assist the CDC on a case-by-case basis or throughout the entire six months of the drafting process.

The body members will also not be allowed to vote in the CDC.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Friday that while the CDC is required to conform to the framework outlined in Section 35 of the interim charter, the panel has a free hand to work out the details.

One of the guidelines requires the new constitution to establish an efficient mechanism to prevent anyone who has been convicted of corruption or undermining election faireness from being allowed to hold a political position.

Mr Wissanu added that this regulation should not have retroactive effect.

The deputy prime minister also denied that the government discussed the controversial "crisis panel" with the new CDC.

Speculation had arisen after the CDC said this week some parts of the charter draft should be adopted and revised for inclusion in the new draft charter, which is expected in January next year.

In another development, Pol Gen Chidchai Wannasathit, a member of the National Reform Steering Assembly, dismissed concerns that his connections with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would affect his work.

Pol Gen Chidchai, former deputy prime minister in the Thaksin administration, said he accepted the job because he is interested in agricultural reform and law enforcement.

Asked about the much-anticipated police reform, he said the police legislation, which was amended in 2004, could need some revision because it has been over a decade since it was introduced.

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