The Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said his office will take action against complaints on misuse of public resources. He said this while making the key note at the launch of the election monitoring report held in Bandaranaike Memorial Institute Conference Hall recently.
He commended the efforts of PPPR Team of Transparency International Sri Lanka and stated that being aware of misuse of public resources should not limit to election time and stressed the need for a mechanism to address such issues.
After his presentation a panel discussion was held. The panelists were C. Mayadunne the former auditor general and S. Ranugge the outgoing Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka and Shan Wijethunge who headed the Election monitoring programme. The panel discussion was moderated by veteran journalist Mandana Ismail. The moderator opening the panel discussion explained the emphasis on campaigning using media Vs other modes such as using social media and mobile phones and the emphasis placed on state media behavior as it is through state media that masses can be reached.
The need for having a regulatory authority for media under the elections commissions’ office was highlighted in the panel discussion bringing in the examples from India and Nepal. Having rules and regulations alone will not help to address the concerns related to media behavior but it is equally important to have the engagement of civil society, citizens, parliamentarians etc
The problems faced by public officials during an election period, the distinction, the confusions and expectations from government and public servants was another aspect taken into discussion by the panel.
The expenditure made on the presidential election campaign amounts to 12billion rupees and the expenses of one candidate the former president had been 6 to 8 billion rupees. Questions were raised whether this was public funds utlised and the importance of auditing accounts of political parties and obtaining records of assets and liabilities of political parties.
The former auditor general Mr Mayadunne expressing his views explained the legal provisions to take actions against misuse of public resources/funds provided from the constitution and further stated that what is required is citizen and civil society engagement and political will to take action against such violations or such recurring of such occurrences in future.
The audience also expressed views and suggestions about enhancing skills in relation to auditing processes to highlight misuse of public and state funds and the importance of having independent commissions such as bribery and corruption elections commission etc.