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Sri Lanka LG polls: SC gives green light to go ahead; Prez excludes EC from Treasury’s essential list & Treasury blocking the money

Court gives LG polls go ahead

The Supreme Court today gave the go ahead for the Local Government (LG) elections scheduled for 9th March.
The court said that it does not need to give an order on the polls as the National Elections Commission has given an undertaking the election will be conducted in accordance with the election laws.
A petition was filed against the polls seeking a postponement.
The Government had raised concerns over the timing of the polls as the country is facing an economic crisis.
However, the National Elections Commission had said that it will go ahead with the election.
The LG polls is seen as a test on the confidence the public have on the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration.
An application was filed with the Supreme Court seeking a writ order invalidating the preparations that are being made for the Local Government Election.
The Chairman of the Election Commission and its members, the Finance Secretary, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, and the Attorney General were named as respondents in this application. (Colombo Gazette)

No necessity to issue order on EC to hold LG polls as EC given undertaking to hold elections: SC

The Supreme Court today observed that there is no necessity of issuing a writ of mandamus to hold the Local Government Election as the Election Commission has already given an undertaking to hold the Election in terms of the Laws.

Accordingly, there will be no barrier for the Election Commission to proceed with the election process.

Two writ petitions filed a group of parliamentarians including Prof. G.L. Peiris who sought an order to hold the Local Government Election today moved Supreme Court to terminate case proceedings since Election Commission has given an undertaking to hold the Election in terms of the Laws.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court permitted to terminate case proceedings in respect of these two writ petitions.

Romesh de Silva PC appeared for Prof. G.L. Peiris. Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC with Lakmini Warusevitane appeared for the four parliamentarians. Saliya Pieris PC appeared for the Election Commission. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda) DM

Prez excludes EC from Treasury’s essential list

Against the backdrop of the Election Commission (EC) requesting the Treasury to release Rs. 770 million for Local Government (LG) poll expenditure for the month of February, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation, and National Policy, has instructed the Treasury and Finance Ministry Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana to only provide provisions for essential Government expenses in order to maintain public services until the State revenue situation improves, the President’s Media Division (PMD) stated yesterday (8), despite the said list of essentials not including expenditure for polls.

A media release in this regard noted that the list of expenditures to be funded includes salaries, debt servicing, pensions, medical supplies for hospitals, subsidies for low-income groups, scholarships, farmers’ pensions, school nutrition programmes, payments for war heroes and disabled soldiers, utility-related payments, and supplies for hospitals and prisons, among others.

“This move is expected to have a significant impact on the economy as it will prioritise the most important needs of the people and prevent funds from being misused. The Treasury has stressed the importance of sticking to the list of essential expenditures, as releasing funds for any other purpose could negatively impact the people and slow down the country’s economic recovery. The decision to only provide funds for essential expenditure is being widely welcomed as a step in the right direction and is expected to play a crucial role in restoring stability and growth to the nation’s economy,” the press release further claimed.

However, the EC, on 5 February, said that they have requested the Ministry for Rs. 770 million for LG election expenditure for February, while stating that the estimation of Rs. 2 billion made by the Police for election expenditure cannot be accepted. Speaking to The Daily Morning, EC Chairman Attorney Nimal G. Punchihewa said that he had sent a letter on 3 February requesting the said amount from the Ministry and is awaiting a response. “The initial payments, as requested, were provided in tranches. We are yet to receive the full amount. We requested a sum of Rs. 37 million,” he added.

CT

 

No response from Treasury on EC’s Feb. poll monies

The Election Commission (EC) is yet to receive a response from the Ministry of Finance with regard to their request for Rs. 770 million as Local Government (LG) election expenditure for the month of February, its Chairman Attorney Nimal G. Punchihewa stated yesterday (9).

He further told The Daily Morning yesterday: “We have sent the letter to the Finance Ministry but there was no response from them.”

He further said that the EC would submit all relevant documents pertaining to the LG poll preparations to the Supreme Court (SC) today (10), when the fundamental rights petitions filed by various parties both for and against the poll are to be taken up for hearing. “One petition was filed requesting that the election be held and the other to postpone it. We are doing our work and it is our statutory duty. Let the court decide,” he added.

“We first asked for some payment, which they provided in tranches. Not the full amount. We requested some Rs. 37 million,” he stated previously.

Meanwhile, the EC, in a media release, stated that any person unable to travel to a polling station on foot or by a service provided by the Sri Lanka Transport Board, a regional Transport Board, the Railways, or any public transport on account of a physical disability may apply in writing under the LG Elections Act or through any other person on his/her behalf, who is not a candidate, to the returning officer of the district to retain the services of a vehicle for the purpose of travel.

The application for this facility should be sent to reach the returning officer within seven days before the date of the poll, i.e. 2 March. If the returning officer is satisfied, he/she will issue a permit that will enable the individual to use a special transport facility. If the application is accompanied by a medical certificate obtained from a registered medical practitioner (Western or indigenous), confirming that the applicant is unable to travel by foot or public transport to the polling station, it will enable the returning officer to take the required decision regarding the voter.

TM

EC releases candidate lists for 2023 LG polls

The Election Commission (EC) of Sri Lanka yesterday (9) released the lists of names of the candidates from each political party and independent group contesting the upcoming 2023 Local Government (LG) election.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued a QR code to access the list of candidates contesting for this year’s election and the relevant political parties or independent groups they are contesting under.

Meanwhile, a total of 676,873 postal vote applications have been received by the Commission, with the highest number of applications being submitted from the Anuradhapura District.

The 2023 Local Government election is scheduled to be held on 9 March.

TM

Petition seeking to defer LG election postponed to 23 Feb.

The Supreme Court has postponed the hearing of the petition seeking to defer the Local Government Election. Accordingly, the petition, filed by retired Army Colonel W.M.R. Wijesundara, will be again taken up for hearing on February 23.

The petition, citing the prevailing economic crisis, has sought a court order to defer the Local Government election.

The Election Commission chairman Nimal G. Punchihewa, the members of the election body, the Prime Minister, the Secretary to the Finance Ministry and the Attorney General as the respondents of the petition.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission once again gave an undertaking before the Supreme Court that the LG poll would be held on March 09 as planned.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court has concluded the hearing of two writ applications filed seeking a writ order to be issued directing the election body to take necessary measures to hold the LG polls.

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