Election Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa to Consult Treasury Secretary about Holding Local Govt Polls Despite Opposition Party Demand that Elections Should be Held Before March 19 Without Consulting Treasury Secy


Mirudhula Thambiah

Although Opposition political parties stated on 5 March in a letter to the Election Commission (EC) that they do not see any reason for the EC to consult Secretary to the Treasury and Finance Ministry Mahinda Siriwardana or anyone else, now that the EC are bound to comply with the interim order issued by the Supreme Court (SC), EC Chairman Attorney Nimal G. Punchihewa said yesterday (6) that he will meet Siriwardana today (7) since the consultation is important as it is the Treasury that releases the needed allocations to conduct the Local Government (LG) Poll.

When queried by The Daily Morning with regard to the letter of the Opposition and the above stance, Punchihewa further said: “You cannot refrain from consulting the Treasury. It is only they who provide the necessary funds. If we don’t consult them and they refrain from providing funds, we will have to go to the SC again and follow that procedure. Therefore, we need to discuss with the relevant parties when carrying on with it.”

He also noted that political parties can make different statements according to their political opinions and goals, but that the EC has a way of dealing with matters and would therefore, follow such procedures.

EC representatives are to meet Siriwardana, Government Printer Gangani Liyanage, and Inspector General of Police Chandana D. Wickramaratne today while representatives of Opposition political parties have also cheduled a meeting with the EC on the same day.

All the main Opposition parties, namely, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, the National People’s Power, the Tamil National Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the All Ceylon Makkal Congress, the Tamil Progressive Alliance, and the breakaway factions of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna jointly wrote to the EC on 5 March demanding that the LG election be held on or before 19 March, thus fulfilling the undertaking given to the SC by the EC.

The letter sent by the Opposition parties addressed to Punchihewa and the members of the EC stated: “Now that the SC has removed the only impediment to holding the election, it is your imperative duty to conduct the said election on or before 19 March. We do not see any reason as to why you should consult the Secretary to the Treasury or anyone else, now that they are bound to comply with the interim order issued by the SC. We therefore request you to re-fix the date of the LG election to a date before 20 March as required by the law, or on the earliest possible date without any further delay. You should not prevaricate on the pretext of consultation with anyone.”

Courtesy:The Morning