Ceiling on election expenditure : Legal framework yet to be passed | Sunday Observer

Ceiling on election expenditure : Legal framework yet to be passed

Laws to impose a ceiling on election campaign expenditure will not come into effect before the upcoming local government polls, which is likely to be held early next year, the Deputy Elections Commissioner M.M. Mohamed told the Sunday Observer yesterday. He said that the legal framework for the new regulations has to be passed in Parliament before a campaign ceiling can be affected at elections and that it is yet to happen.

The Election Commission Chairman announced on Friday that notice of intent to hold the election, calling for nominations will be issued on November 27. According to the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act, if the notice is issued as planned, the dates for the elections are likely to be fixed between late January and early February.

The Cabinet unanimously approved a note of intent submitted by the President to introduce controls on unlimited spending on polls campaigns by political parties and candidates in October this year.

The move was to create a level playing field for all candidates which was a long-term concern of the independent election monitoring bodies and civil society. It is also expected to minimise poll-related violence.

Meanwhile, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe announcing the Cabinet decision earlier said that there is a political commitment to implement an expense ceiling.

The Election Commission has prepared a set of recommendations to impose a ceiling on expenditure which might perhaps be the basis for a future legal framework.

“We hope the effort to bring in controls on campaign finances will not be stalled due to a lack of commitment,” local election observer PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.

PAFFREL and the CMEV, two leading election monitoring bodies in the country, have also formulated and presented a set of recommendations on controlling poll financing to all 225 members in parliament including President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe.