New local council polls date also in balanceView(s):
- EC chairman says fresh dates for postal votes need to be announced if Treasury does not give Rs 500mn by Wednesday
- Government Printer also has no money for polls-related printing jobs
By Damith Wickremasekara
The new date of April 25 announced by the Elections Commission for the local council elections is again in the balance as fresh dates for postal voting will need to be announced if the Commission does not receive an advance payment of Rs 500 million by next Wednesday, Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa told the Sunday Times.
He said the Commission required a total of Rs 1,100 million from the Treasury by the end of the month to go ahead with the preparation for elections.
“If we do not get half of the required amount by Wednesday, March 15, and the money is not made available by Monday, March 20, we would have to return to the courts and inform it about the non-allocation of funds by the Treasury,” Mr. Punchihewa said.
He said the EC had no plans to hold discussions with the Treasury as it had been regularly taking up the position that funds were not available.
The moves come against the backdrop of Government Printer Gangani Liyanage stating that there was insufficient time to complete the printing of postal ballots. Postal voting was to be held on March 28,29, 30 and 31
Ms. Liyanage told the Sunday Times that though Rs 533 million was requested for the printing work, Rs 339 million was still outstanding and therefore she could not go ahead with the printing.
She said there were about 2,500 election-related printing jobs to be completed, but so far only 54 had been done. These included printing ballot papers, notices and other documents. “This is not a delay caused by us, but it is a problem of the Commission not getting the funds for us,” she said.
A senior Treasury official said they had referred the request for the required funds to President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as finance minister and were awaiting a response.
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