Campaign finance laws soon | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Campaign finance laws soon

Draft legislation on campaign financing to curb finance misuse in propaganda and using elections as a tool to launder money is undergoing final touches at the Attorney General’s Department, a senior Election Commission official told the Sunday Observer.

Incidents that have come to light where many members of Parliament were financed by Perpetual Holdings, owned by Arjun Aloysius, shows a dire need for campaign finance regulations in the country.

The draft law which was prepared by the Election Commission late last year, requires candidates to disclose the volume of the campaign expenditure, how the money was raised, whether they were donations or loans as well as the identities of the contributors in a comprehensive financial statement to be submitted within two months of the election.

“If they fail to comply, the elected candidates will be stripped of their positions, it being the parliamentary seat if the person is an MP.”

In October last year, the Cabinet of Ministers approved in principle, intent to bring in campaign funding legislation. The Cabinet paper was presented by the President as the subject Minister.

“After Cabinet approval, we prepared the document in Sinhala, Tamil and English and sent it to the AG’s Department to fine-tune the law,” the official said.

The proposed law by the Election Commission also dictates, that the candidates reveal free hotel stays during the electioneering period. The financial statement needs to be properly audited by a Chartered Accountant. The law, however, will not have a set ceiling on campaign expenditure for each election. “Instead, the ceiling will be decided at the time of the election, and will be gazetted by the Election Commission, the way the regulations on misuse of State property is gazetted,” he said.

When asked if the laws entailed a specific fine structure and penalties such as civic rights being stripped of those found guilty, the EC official said such laws are already there.

A leading independent polls monitoring body, CMEV’s National Coordinator Manjula Gajanayake said they too were in the process of submitting a set of proposals on election campaign financing.