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Government stops Rs. 5,000 payment; blames Elections Commission

ECONOMYNEXT- The government will not provide the relief payment of Rs 5,000 per needy family for the month of June, in response to a letter from the Elections Commission which criticized the politicization of the relief effort the Co-Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said.

He told a media briefing this morning, May 21, that the cabinet has taken this decision due to opinion expressed by the Commission questioning the need for this relief if daily wage earners could go back to work.

In the letter, the Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said the Commission has been receiving a number of complaints received saying that the government is promoting the political parties in the government through the relief programme in the months of April and May to the people affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter states that not only individuals and civil societies but secretaries of the parties who running for the general election has made complaints saying that the relief programme has become politicised.

Ruling party operatives at the village level have been involved in the distribution and this exercise had been “turned into a promotional effort of the party,” the Commission noted.

Further, the letter said that the Election Commission will take steps to inform the public that no political propaganda should be carried out through this financial relief programme

Election Commission also ordered the government to withdraw local politicians from the governing party from distributing and directing the distribution of the relief payments and hand over the task to the officials such as the District Secretaries and the Grama Sevaka.

“However, since we are always bound to respect the election laws of the country and since the Election Commission can interpret and define that political parties have complained that the relief programme has become politicised then will have to face legal charges, the cabinet took this decision,” Gunewardena said.

The Commission’s letter, a copy of which is with EconomyNext, at no stage said that the government should stop the relief program to the most needy. (Colombo/May21/2020)






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