Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has recently succeeded in utilising the Right to Information (RTI) Act to request and obtain political party financial statements, as filed with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka.
For the first time in Sri Lanka, political party financial statements are publicly available and can be viewed here. Not only will this information allow for greater scrutiny of party finances, it will provide a platform to generate a much-needed discussion on the need for regulation of campaign finances. TISL encourages the public to access this information and utilise it in the spirit of Open Government.
The Election Commission’s compliance with TISL’s RTI request serves as a model example of compliance with the RTI Act. TISL filed requests for the annual financial reports of the political parties submitted to the Election Commission, during the period 2012-2016. In adherence with the RTI Act, the Election Commission responded with the prescribed fees payable to obtain this information. Subsequent to the payment of fees, the Election Commission provided the requested information within the prescribed 14 working-day time frame.
The receipt of political party financial statements was made possible by Sri Lanka’s long anticipated RTI Act, which came into force in February 2017. The RTI Act represents a significant democratic checkpoint for Sri Lanka, which can lead to a reinvigorated social contract between citizen and the state. TISL has been a long-time advocate of RTI and has used the new RTI Act to file public interest RTI requests with a variety of public authorities, which can be viewed here.