EC Chairman wants laws to regulate campaign funding | Daily News


EC Chairman wants laws to regulate campaign funding

To prevent election campaign-related corruption

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday stressed the urgent need for laws to regulate election campaign financing in order to prevent election campaign-related corruption.

Addressing a media conference at his office, the Chairman said that Sri Lanka had a comprehensive law on election campaign financing earlier. With the enactment of this law, political parties and candidates were made to declare how much money they spend on election related activities.

“If political parties and candidates declare their sources of funding the public will be aware of where the money comes from. It will prevent the use of black money in election campaigns” he added.

He further said that the Presidential election will be held between November 15 and December 7, 2019. Only the President has the authority to change the date.

“I am pretty sure that the President will not do that. In a statement made by the President in India he said that the elections are scheduled to be held on December 7,” the Elections Commission Chairman said.

The Chairman stressed the importance of introducing NOTA (None of the Above) option which enables the voter to officially register a vote of rejection for all candidates who are contesting in order to encourage more citizens to participate in elections as they can vote and have their votes counted, even if they did not select any candidate.

“Even though Sri Lanka’s voter turnout exceeds 80 percent, in future we cannot expect that specially from the young generation.

So the introduction of Nota option is very important.” Deshapriya said.

Commenting on the Provincial Councils Election, Deshapriya said that the Commission pressed the government to hold Provincial Councils Election prior to the Presidential Elections. But now there is no sufficient time to hold Provincial Councils Election before November if they wait for the delimitation report.

He further said that ruling the Provincial Councils’ operations through Chief Secretaries is completely undemocratic and it is important to understand that elections are an essential part of a democracy. A country cannot be truly democratic until its citizens have the opportunity to choose their representatives through elections that are free and fair.

Responding to a question by a journalist regarding the elections expenses, the Chairman said that Rs 4 billion have to be spent for one election and if both Presidential and Provincial Councils elections could be conducted of not more than a two month interval the government could save Rs.2 billion.

Refuting the allegations levelled by various groups claiming that an American hand had sneaked into the Elections Commission, there is no way for any international force to interfere in the Commission.

“After the Tsunami, the Elections Commission had to work with IFES to computerize the elections system in Sri Lanka and still we work with them. But the Commission is not scared of the American Bear, the European Dog, the Dragon of China, the Polar Bear of Russia or the Octopus of India.” he said.

The Chairman further said that both the President and the Prime Minister agreed to the proposal made by the Commission not to name any road or a government building under the name of politicians who are still alive. Commission Members N. G. Abeysekara and Rathnajeevan Hoole were also present.

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