A RTI request, filed by Ceylon Today, has revealed that Prime Minister Dinesh Guanwardena misinformed the parliament on controversial letter sent by secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration Neel Hapuhinne to all District Secretaries/ Government Agents instructing them not to accept deposits from Political Parties for Local Government Election 2023.
Election Commission immediately send a circular nullifying Hapathanna’s letter. When summoned and questioned by the EC Hapuhinna had told that he issued the letter following the directives of Cabinet.
The letter was sent on issued on 10 January sparked controversy in the country and many political parties severely criticised the move alleging that, it was a political gimmick of the Government to avoid holding an election.
When the issue was raised in the parliament on 17 January, Prime Minister Dinesh Guanwardena, who holds the ministerial portfolio of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, vouched that the Cabinet never took any decision to halt accepting deposits. Further said that the Cabinet did not take such a decision and if someone claims so, it is completely false.
On the contrary Right To Information (RTI) request by Ceylon Today has revealed that the said letter was in fact sent following instructions received from the Cabinet. It has reveald that Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers M. Kodippili Arachchi, on 10 January, had sent a letter to Hapuhinna conveying to him the Cabinet decision taken on 9 January.
According to the Item No. 34 of the Cabinet meeting minutes, the President had briefed the Cabinet about his meeting held with the EC members, with regard to the actions taken by the Commission on the LG Election.
The President informed the Cabinet that he told the EC members to seek advice from the Attorney General on the future course of action to be taken in view of several applications before Court on holding the election and to inform the Government to consider providing the required funds within the available fiscal space.
Following the President’s briefing, the Cabinet had decided to consider provision of the required funds for the election once the EC informed the Government of the outcome on the action as stated above.
Also, the Cabinet had decided to inform Hapuhinna to instruct all District Secretaries/ Government Agents instructing them not to accept deposits.
The letter to Hapuhinna had been copied to the Secretary to the President, the Attorney General, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Ministry of Justice.
(With the inputs from Ceylon Today.)