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Myriad of campaign expenditure ceiling amounts proposed

Myriad of campaign expenditure ceiling amounts proposed

4 months ago | BY Mirudhula Thambiah

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  • Election Commission to adjust agreed amounts per law after yesterday’s meeting

A plethora of views had been put forth with regard to the electoral campaign expenditure ceiling amounts at yesterday’s (24) meeting held between the Election Commission (EC) and the political parties, independent groups, and candidates contesting the upcoming Local Government (LG) election, with the agreed upon figures to be amended accordingly by the EC per the law.

“We discussed the amount but it cannot be decided before the law is authorised,” EC Chairman Attorney Nimal Punchihewa told The Daily Morning yesterday while member of the Freedom People’s Alliance and Opposition MP Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told The Daily Morning that “certain figures were agreed on and the EC will make the necessary changes to that”.

The EC also noted that there is no necessity to add regulations for the recently passed Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill also known as the Campaign Finance Bill and added that it would be gazetted once it gets authorised by Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana. Punchihewa said that the said Act would be gazetted once authorised by the Speaker. “There is no necessity for regulations,” he added. 

He further noted that yesterday’s meeting with the political parties was based on the implementation of the said Bill as well as their campaigning procedures.

Meanwhile, Dr. Godahewa said that the EC had swiftly taken a decision to implement this law by gazetting the minimum amount that the candidates can spend. “They quickly summoned all the registered political parties and the independent groups separately to discuss the ceiling amount for a candidate and the parties as per the Bill. Today’s meeting was to discuss that and to get the views of the representatives of the political parties. It was a very fruitful discussion and in fact, we respected the prompt action by the EC,” he added. 

The said Bill was passed in Parliament with a majority of 61 votes on 19 January, with 97 voting in favour, while 36 MPs voted against it. The Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill to regulate the expenditure incurred by candidates at every election conducted under the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, No. 53 of 1946, the Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988, the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981, and the Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981, and to provide for matters therein was presented to Parliament on 8 December 2022 for the first reading by President’s Counsel and Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

The EC, on 18 January, gave an assurance to the Supreme Court on the upcoming LG poll, stating that the poll will be conducted in compliance with the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2017.

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