Godfrey Leone Ganado looks at the financial statements filed by the Labour and Nationalist parties under electoral law … and pokes his fingers in the many holes.
The comparative analysis is based on the accounts submitted to the Electoral Commission in accordance with the Financing of the Political Parties Act, and the guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission.
In order to present this analysis as simply as possible, I am presenting two articles, the first on the Income and Expenditure Statements, and the second on the Statements of Financial Positions (Balance Sheets) which show the Assets (what the Parties own) and the Liabilities (what the Parties owe). The difference between these two, reflects the Net Worth of the Parties.
I do not intend to comment on every line item, but only on the most material ones. Also, the numbers are rounded up to the nearest thousand or percentage point, whichever is the case.
|INCOME AND EXPENDITURE|
|FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2017|
|Membership and subscriptions||151,829||106,311||64,722||71,934|
|Donations in kind|
|Income from fund raising activities||216,064||4,714||190,867|
|Profit on sale of property||100,000|
|Rental income and grountrents|
|Income from Government||94,870||94,870||103,203||103,785|
|Other amounts remitted by branches||109,325||381,126||50,000||108,386|
|Cost of fund raising and public events||322,718|
|Campaign and election costs||1,326,466||1,239,797|
|Depreciation and amortisation||104,794||70,501||100,635||119,999|
|Impairment of debtors|
|SURPLUS FROM OPERATIONS||1,051,256||711,831||292,077||40,031|
|Impairment – Media Link Communications||-2,035,447|
|SURPLUS/(DEFICIT -) FOR THE YEAR||-984,191||711,831||-1,639,557||40,031|
- During 2016, the PL received Euro 7,212 more in membership and subscriptions than the PN. This situation was reversed in 2017, as the PN received Euro 45,518 more, or 43% over the PL. This shows that the PN has seemingly more paid-up members than the PL. The law does not impose the publication of numbers of members in the financial statements, and it is therefore not possible to compare this.
- During 2016 and 2017, the PN received more in monetary (cash) donations than the PL. In 2016, the PN received Euro 1 million, and in 2017, Euro 3.2 million whereas the PL received Euro 2 million in 2017 as against Euro 631 thousand in 2016. The amount received by the PN included Euro 1 million which was collected in the ‘Maduma’ Scheme, launched to finance the general election campaign expenses.
- The PN seems to be more transparent in the amounts raised from fund raising activities, as the PL did not include this, except for a negligible amount in 2017 and none in 2016. One possible reason, could be that the PL is retaining any such income within its district clubs and not including it within the Central Accounts. In fact, the PL treats its clubs as related parties and not as part of its main political party.
- The PN accounted for a profit of Euro 100,000 on sale of property in 2017. It is appropriate to highlight that most of the PN district clubs are owned by the party, whereas the PL rents its district clubs.
- Both parties received Euro 95 thousand from the Government in 2017, and Euro 103 thousand in 2016. This is a far cry from what should be considered as appropriate funding, to encourage other parties from venturing into the political arena, and to start breaking the unhealthy duopoly in what is supposed to be a democracy.
- Both parties received income from their branches (clubs). The PL received Euro 108 thousand in 2016 and Euro 381 thousand in 2017, whereas the PN received Euro 50 thousand in 2016 and Euro 109 thousand in 2017.
It is not possible to establish whether these amounts represent the entire surplus funds generated by the clubs. In the absence of a separate detailed Income and Expenditure account, it is also not possible to establish what expenses are being made by the clubs, and whether such expenses may include amounts or expense items which the parties may not wish to publish.
- Staff costs for the PL remained practically the same, at Euro 375,000 in 2017 and 2016, whereas those for the PN increased from Euro 352,000 in 2016 to Euro 431,000 in 2017, an increase of 22%. The number of employees increased from 14 to 19 for the PN and remained at 24 for the PL. This reflects an average annual remuneration of Euro 22,700 for the PN and Euro 15,600 for the PL.
- Administrative expenses for the PN are nearly double those for the PL in 2017. As for 2016, those for the PN were 67% higher than those for the PL.
- The PN spent Euro 323, 000 for its fundraising and public events in 2017 (Euro 81,000 in 2016), whereas the PL did not report any such expenses. This may be either because the PL had these expenses paid for by third parties, or these are included in the unpublished results of its related parties, that is, its district clubs.
- The PN spent Euro 1.3 million for its 2017 campaign and election cost, whereas the PL spent Euro 1.2 million. In my opinion, the PL must have had substantial hidden costs, as the extravagance of its election campaign was way ahead of the soft campaign adopted by the PN.
- The PN had an interest expense of Euro 395,000 in 2017 as against Euro 369,200 in 2016. The comparative figures for the PL, were Euro 108,000 in 2017 and Euro 125,000 in 2016.
The main variance arises as a result of the 4% Euro 4.3 million 10-year Cedoli Scheme introduced by the PN in 2016.
SURPLUS FROM OPERATIONS
The PN had a surplus of Euro 1.1 million in 2017 and Euro 292,000 in 2016, as against a surplus for the PL, of Euro 712,000 in 2017 and Euro 40,000 in 2016.
These results show that the PN has a substantially higher surplus from its operations than the PL, unless the PL is playing around with figures.
One must however highlight that the PN has subsidised the operations of its media subsidiary, Media Link Communications. The relative subsidy equivalent to its annual operational loss, was Euro 1.9 million in 2016 and Euro 2 million in 2017.
As regards the PL, it is subsidising its media subsidiary, One Productions Limited, and this is not surprising as the Government would be giving it substantial advertising income at premium rates.
It is not possible to analyse the results of the media subsidiaries as, One Productions has not been filing its audited accounts to the MFSA since it filed those for 31 December 2010 on 30 August 2012, and Media Link Communications filed those for 30 September 2004 on 30 August 2005.