Strict legal action will be taken against local government elections candidates in Sri Lanka who distribute monetary or material subsidies funded personally or from public money as a part of their election campaign, the Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.
Issuing a press release, Chairman Deshapriya pointed out that according to the Elections Ordinance distributing subsidies during the election campaigning is entirely illegal and considered a case of bribing. If any public officer or government institute is to violate election laws and directives issued by the Elections Commission, action will be taken against them by the Commission, the statement said.
Public officers and politicians involved in such actions should be held responsible for the misuse of public funds, Deshapriya pointed out. “The officers of the Elections Commission will take direct action against public officers and the Commission together with the police will also make submissions for court inquiries on breach of election law and politicians could pursue election petitions against such actions,” the statement said.
The Elections Commission observes that the political parties and candidates should refrain from acts such as distributing education materials, gifts, and contributing to religious institutes. The Commission states that complaints have been lodged against such activities, stating that they are also parts of election campaigning.
The Commission has directed Divisional Secretariats and other government bodies to refrain from distributing public funded aids among people until after 15th February, 2018, as it is a prolonged habit to use these programs as a part of the election campaign. “The divisional secretariats are advised to distribute only items such as livestock, plants, seeds and similar items which are difficult to be stored. Other items, which can be stored for several days, should remain in stores until 15th February,” the statement said.
The public is also advised not to accept public funded aids as a bondage to vote a particular political party, Chairman of the Elections Commission noted. “People must understand that by right they are entitled to receive these aids from the government. They will be made aware that these aids are provided by public money.” the statement said.
The Commission also observes that any statements justifying the distribution of financial and material aid to be groundless.