Election costs could escalate – NEC | Daily News


Election costs could escalate – NEC

 EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya

The cost of holding the General Election could be double the cost of the previously held Presidential Election given the special circumstances faced, National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya told the political party representatives yesterday.

About Rs. 7 billion had been estimated for the previous Presidential Election, and according to the NEC Chairman this could soar to Rs 14 billion due to the additional measures required in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Representatives of 34 political parties met the NEC members at the Election Secretariat premises in Rajagiriya yesterday to discuss matters pertaining to the General Election. The NEC is to meet representatives of another 23 political parties today.

No final decision on the date of the Election or issuing the preferential vote numbers had been informed during the meeting.  

Political party representatives of both the Government and the Opposition parties had urged the Commission to take a final decision about the date of the General Election.

 “We requested the NEC to hold the General Election. The meeting ended with the conclusion that the future course of action must take into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic situation and developments at the Supreme Court with regard to the Fundamental Right petitions,” said Minister Dinesh Gunawardena after attending the meeting.

“Three main factors were considered during the meeting. The first was that we have to be wary of the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19 if the Election was conducted. Secondly, the safety of public servants must be assured and thirdly a level playing field for all candidates has to be assured,” JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake said.

“For an election to be democratic, the people must have the interest to go and vote. If greed for power dominates the Election, it will not be free and fair. There has to be an atmosphere conducive for a democratic election,” said Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara.

“There is still doubt whether we have an environment suitable to hold a General Election where village level campaigning is possible. The Election Commission has the power to make the final call and we believe all will abide by that decision,” said Sri Lanka Freedom Party General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that they asked to give the preferential vote numbers, so that election campaigns could be arranged. He added that the NEC did not respond to it.

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