Polls monitors write to Treasury Secy. to release poll funds
With the Election Commission (EC) awaiting a response from the Ministry of Finance to a request for funds for Local Government (LG) elections expenditure, polls monitors and related organisations made a written request to the Ministry of Finance yesterday (12) for the release of funds required for the same, noting that it is the responsibility of all government officials to support the EC in holding the LG elections.
The letter written by polls monitors People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections, Election Violence Monitoring Center, Institute for Democratic Reforms and Electoral Studies, Transparency International Sri Lanka, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, Mothers and Daughters of Lakbima, and Election Observation Centre was addressed to the Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance Mahinda Siriwardana.
The letter noted that while Parliament had allocated funds in its 2023 budget to conduct the LG elections this year, the EC had not received a successful response related to the requested funds from the Ministry.
“Conducting the election is the responsibility of the EC under Article 104B of the Constitution. Let us also draw your attention to the provisions of Article 104B(2) which provides that it is the responsibility of all government officials to support the elections of the Commission.”
“In particular, the Ministry that drafted the budget, which emphasises that not providing the funds allocated by the budget passed by Parliament – which has the powers to control public finances, according to the Constitution – is a challenge to the powers and privileges of the Parliament, as well as an undermining of the Parliament. Let us also emphasise that if the approved financial allocations are not released to the EC, serious doubts will be held about the allocation of other funds in the budget document adopted by Parliament,” the letter further read.
“By drawing your attention to Article 104GG(1) of the Constitution, which states that those who refuse or fail to cooperate with the Commission to ensure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of any poll or referendum without any reasonable cause, we request you to support the EC by releasing relevant funds to conduct the election,” the letter further added.
The polls monitors further stressed that the Supreme Court had not given an order against the EC regarding the fundamental rights petition filed by several persons including Parliamentarian Professor G.L. Peiris, based on the promise given that the EC will ensure that the LG election is conducted.
“Also, the Supreme Court has referred the hearing of the case requesting an order not to hold the LG election to 23 February, and the Commission has planned to commence postal voting on 22 February. Therefore, we request to immediately release the necessary funds for the progress of the election as approved by Parliament through the budget document.”
Speaking to The Daily Morning on 9 February, EC Chairman Attorney Nimal G. Punchihewa stated that the EC was yet to receive any response from the Ministry of Finance with regard to their request for Rs. 770 million as the LG election expenditure for the month of February.
He further told The Daily Morning that although a letter was sent to the Ministry, there had been no response.
LG Poll: 30,000 Postal Voting applications rejected
COLOMBO (News 1st); The National Election Commission said that around 30,000 applications for postal voting for the upcoming Local Government Election were rejected.
The NEC said a majority of the applicants had submitted incomplete applications.
It added that approximately 675,000 applications were submitted for postal voting for the 2023 Local Government Election.
The secure packages containing the postal vote ballot papers will be handed over to the Department of Posts on the 15th of February, and the official ballot papers for the election will be handed over on the 19th of February.
Approximately 200,000 state employees will be assigned to election duty.
Postal voting for the 2023 Local Government Election will take place on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of February.
Govt MPs complain against the EC
Colombo (News1st) – Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana says the letter submitted by a group of Parliamentarians stating that the National Election Commission violated their privileges, will be forwarded to the Committee on Parliamentary Business.
He stated it will be submitted to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee based on the decision taken by the party leaders.
The Speaker said the Parliamentary Privileges Committee has not yet been appointed for the new Parliament session.
The Speaker said therefore the letter will be presented at the next party leaders meeting.
He added, a group of MPs submitted the letter to him on Thursday (9). But he did NOT specify who the MPs were.
EC to request Rs. 300 m from Treasury after running out of funds
The EC Chief said the funds received have now depleted and therefore the EC will request more funding to continue with its preparations for the Local Government election. He also confirmed that the EC is currently making the necessary preparations to hold elections as scheduled following the Supreme Court decision on the Local Government elections delivered on 10 February declaring the EC has no obstacles to hold the vote in March.
Meanwhile, the EC has also summoned secretaries of all political parties for a meeting tomorrow to discuss issues relating to the upcoming Local Government elections. Punchihewa said all political party secretaries have been informed to be present at the EC head office in Rajagiriya accordingly.