The Election Commission (EC) could carry through the provisions of the just passed Election Expenditure Act only if it permits to do so within the already decided timeframe of the local government polls, Chairman of the EC Nimal Punchihewa said yesterday.
He told the Daily Mirror that the EC was constitutionally bound to implement the statutory provisions stipulated in the Act but it cannot hinder the conduct of the LG polls.
“The EC is ready to enact the provisions of this Act soon after the Speaker put his signature to it after the Legal Draftsman drafted the Act with amendments passed in the committee stage but those provisions will not affect the smooth conduct of the LG polls in any way,” Mr. Punchihewa stressed.
The EC must also discuss the enactment of the ‘Election Expenditure Act’ with all political parties and independent groups contesting the LG polls before releasing the guidelines and laws related to election expenditure, he added.
The EC immediately requires only Rs. 5 billion, not Rs. 10, 15 or 20 billion as suggested by those who attempt to sabotage the conducting of the LG polls by hook or by crook.the EC is confident that it can restrict the full cost of the LG polls to less than Rs.8 billion. This is 0.0985% of the total budgetary allocations of approximately Rs. 7,880 billion for 2023. While confirming the position taken by Chairman, Mr. Punchihewa, Commissioner General of the EC, Mr. Saman Sri Ratnayake also said the Elections Expenditure Act would not affect the conduct of the LG polls in any way.
Admitting the importance of monitoring and controlling elections expenses by political parties and candidates to ensure a free and fair election, Mr. Ratnayake said there are instances where a Pradeshiya Sabha member spent as much as Rs. 40 million in a local council election in the past. Under the newly enacted law, the EC must announce the regulations in election expenditure by political parties and candidates within 5 days after the conclusion of accepting nominations, Mr. Ratnayake emphasized.
The District Returning Officers (DROS) will announce the Election Date this afternoon after the closing of accepting nominations at 12.00 noon and giving one and half hours for objections.
The total number of registered voters eligible to vote in the forthcoming election according to the electoral register of 2022 is 16,692 398.They are to elect members to 339 local council bodies except for Elpitiya PS and Kalmunai MC. It is expected to hold the LG polls, 2023 in the second week of March, 2023. (SANDUN A. JAYASEKERA)
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