Election Campaign Finance to be regulated soon – ECSL Chairman
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka (ECSL) Nimal Punchihewa said that the ‘The Act to regulate expenditure incurred by candidates at elections conducted under the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, the Provincial Councils Elections Act, The Parliamentary Elections Act and the Presidential Elections Act’ drawn up by the Election Commission of Sri Lanka has been approved by the Attorney General and has been forwarded to the President. If approved by the President, the Act will be presented in Parliament and enacted if passed.
The necessity of regulating Campaign Finance arose as some candidates and political parties spent billions of rupees to literally buy votes during election time. The people little realised that it was they that would be footing the bill at the end as the funders would be given the opportunity to earn much more at the expense of the public.
Both the Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFEREL) and Manjula Gajanayake the National Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) took up the cause of regulating campaign finance at the time and set up a special team to keep tabs on the colossal amounts spent by political parties and candidates for their election campaigns. Gajanayake said that the CMEV had spent Rs.15 million to monitor campaign finance at the 2019 Presidential Election and 2020 General Election.
He said that the Election Commission of Sri Lanka should setup a special committee to review the maximum amount each candidate and political party could spend on their campaign at each election and added that it was imperative that the source of funding is disclosed and spending transparent.
He also said that laws should be introduced to unseat anyone who is proven guilty of spending over and above the stipulated ceiling and added that introducing a regulatory mechanism to control campaign finance can undoubtedly change the Sri Lankan election landscape in the future.