Nov 22, Colombo: The Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that yesterday (21) a proposal was submitted to the Cabinet to enact a law to make provisions for the control of election expenses.
The Minister made this disclosure today (22) at the press conference held to announce Cabinet decisions at the Government Information Department.
The minister stated that the opportunity for the people to make the right decisions in appointing public representatives has been lost due to a number of reasons and the candidates who spend more money have advantages in the election system.
He further said that there are candidates who sometimes spend millions of money even using media organizations.
He said that there is no responsibility to the people to show how these people got the money and who gave this money, and wrong decisions are made because the people are being misled like this. The minister added that money making is an industry and media culture also contributes to it.
He recalled that this has been discussed since the early days of proportional representation, and in 1994 even Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike made a political promise that the people would be given the right to elect a member who is directly responsible for a constituency that does not have a preference system instead of this representation system which opened the door to corruption.
He said that many efforts were made in this regard, and when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was passed in 2015, the 20th amendment was presented to change this, but the parliament was dissolved before it was done.
This act is brought covering the all the other four acts namely presidential election, parliamentary election, provincial council election, and local government election and under this the Election Commission decides the amount of money that can be spent by a candidate. He also said that there is a possibility that he will lose his position as an MP if it is confirmed that the candidate exceeded the set limit.
He also said that the act has the power to punish with fines in accordance with the provisions of the respective Acts. He also said that it is prohibited to use government property, government vehicles, government resources and government employees for political activities.
It is completely prohibited to receive financial aid from various groups, multi-national organizations and foreign countries.
He also emphasized that three weeks after the end of the election, whether the candidate wins or loses, he should provide a summary of the account with full information about how much money he spent on the election, how it was obtained and who gave it.
The Justice Minister said that if false facts were given, it would be considered as an offense and punishment would be given under this Act, and under the Penal Code. A Magistrate's Court would have the power to prosecute and punish the giving of false affidavits.
He also said that in order to go to an optimal democracy, there is a need for a system of appointing people's representatives who can work within that optimal democratic framework.