Govt. Printer to boycott EC over ‘apathy’
Posted on March 15th, 2023

BY Buddhika Samaraweera Courtesy The Morning

  • Says inadequate intervention to obtain funds for ballot printing 

Government Printer Gangani Liyanage said that since there is no point in participating in discussions with the Election Commission (EC) in a context where the latter does not intervene enough to obtain the necessary funds for the printing of the ballot papers for the Local Government (LG) elections, even if the EC were to call her in the future, she would not attend any such meeting.

The Daily Morning queried Liyanage as to whether she expects to have a discussion with the EC and inform that the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Ministry is yet to release the necessary funds for the printing of the ballot papers, to which she said: I have no need to go there, and I will not go there even if they call me.” 

When queried as to why she would not attend the EC, she said: I asked the EC to intervene to obtain funds and Police security, and informed that ballot papers could be printed within about one week if those requirements are met. Then, the EC asked me to write to the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury (Mahinda Siriwardana) and obtain funds. I did that, but there was no response from the Treasury. If the EC does not do what we ask for, there is no point in having further discussions. Even on 7 March, both the Finance Ministry and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) did not attend the meeting with the EC. IGP (Chandana D. Wickramaratne) had instead sent a representative. If I go there again, I have to make the same request again, so I will not go.”

Meanwhile, in response to a query as to whether she had received any response from the Department of Treasury Operations under the Ministry of Finance to her requests to release at least Rs. 200 million for the printing of ballot papers, Liyanage said that she had not received any response as of last evening (15). 

All they say is that they have forwarded my requests to the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Minister (President Ranil Wickremesinghe).”

Liyanage, who was to inform the EC in writing that the general Treasury is yet to provide the necessary funds for printing ballot papers for the LG elections, instead sent another letter to the Department of Treasury Operations on Tuesday (14), reminding of her earlier request to release the funds in question. She told The Daily Morning on the same day that she would request a sum of Rs. 200 million through the letter.

Multiple attempts to contact the State Ministers of Finance Shehan Semasinghe and Ranjith Siyambalapitiya to inquire about the problematic situation which has arisen with regard to the release of funds for the LG elections, proved futile.

While the Supreme Court, considering a fundamental rights application filed by Samagi Jana Balawegaya General Secretary and Opposition Parliamentarian Ranjith Madduma Bandara, has issued an interim order preventing Siriwardana from withholding the funds allocated for election related purposes through the 2023 Budget, the Treasury is yet to take steps to release the required funds, and instead forwarded the recent related requests made by the EC and the Government Printer to Wickremesinghe.

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