Financial reports, Constitutions and manifestos of all the political parties in Sri Lanka will be published in the Elections Commission’s website in the coming weeks, Chairman of the Elections Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya said today in Negombo.
Delivering a speech at an event organized by Center for Monitoring Elections Violence (CMEV) on elections campaign finance, Deshapriya said all the political parties have already been informed about the Commission’s decision and they have been asked to send their feedback within a period of one week.
The financial reports of political parties that will be published are only till the last financial year which ended on March 31, 2018. As Deshapriya stated, not all the parties have disclosed all the expenses.
“Financial management is very important in a country like Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan voters are simply selling their votes. In the recent past, one vote was sold for Rs.5000. According to the current situation, if you have a lot of money, winning a Local Government Election is not a big deal,” he said.
Deshapriya emphasized that people should be demanding that political parties disclose their source of funding and mandatorily submit these reports. Tansparency in political party funding should be the first step in the direction of major electoral reforms, he opined.
Sri Lanka was a very early signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2003 – which came into force in 2005 – which compels State Parties to consider the adoption of legislative and administrative measures to enhance transparency in the funding of election candidates and political parties. In the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, Sri Lanka in Article 156A(c)3 enshrined the need to adopt measures to implement the UNCAC and other International Conventions relating to the prevention of corruption.
The New Delhi Declaration on Political Finance Regulations in South Asia, made on December 16, 2015 has also laid out the principles and practices to be considered in introducing political finance regulations, both during elections and otherwise. So far, Sri Lanka has no restrictions whatsoever on the amount of contributions that may be made to parties or candidates, nor with respect to spending. No measures have been taken thus far to seriously consider rules for transparency in such matters.
The Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No.1 of 1975(6) makes it mandatory for candidates nominated for elections to make declarations of assets and liabilities. However, it is only within three months of obtaining nominations that a candidate is obligated to submit their declaration of assets and liabilities.
For the first time, five Parliamentarians from multiple political parties on Thursday (28) released details of their Asset declarations to the public. The five MPs include Tharaka Balasuriya, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, M.A. Sumanthiran, Vidura Wickramanayaka, and State Minister Eran Wickremaratne. (By Keshali Silva)