Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya has called for new laws to prevent candidates who failed to declare assets at past elections to contest future elections.
He said that at least 2000 candidates who contested the last General Election had failed to declare assets within three months of filing nominations.
He however said clarified that all elected MPs had submitted their documents of asset declaration.
Deshapriya said 6,151 candidates from 21 accepted political parties and 201 independent groups representing all the districts had contested the General Elections last year.
“What we have to do is to ensure that those who contested without declaring their assets will not be allowed to contest the next elections,” he added.
The candidates are required to submit details of their personal savings certificates, Government securities, stocks, shares and debentures and those of their spouses or children, together with the properties which they own, including jewellery and vehicles.
The general public could obtain information of asset declaration for Rs. 250 while a printed copy of the document could be obtained for Rs.500. Meanwhile, polls Monitors observed that in the case of non-declaration of assets and liabilities, direct action in the form of stripping candidates of their civic rights for several years or in the case of elected politicians, cancelling their political status, should be considered.
Elections monitoring bodies, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act should be amended to allow for citizens to not only obtain a statement of assets and liabilities of a politician but also allow for the information to be disseminated freely.
Executive Director of CaFFE, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said the proposal to bring about this change had already been handed over to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
“What Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya has proposed is good. This must come as an Act of Parliament as an amendment of the laws governing elections. This is the responsibility of the lawmakers,” he added.
We have requested President Maithripala Sirisena to make this relevant change pertaining to obtaining the said information and disseminating it, to the said Act, Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi explained, adding that such a move was what was first in order.