Election Expenditure Bill to be taken up for debate today despite previous decision to delay by a month

It has been decided to take up the proposed Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill for debate in parliament today. The decision was made at the Committee on Parliamentary Business meeting held yesterday chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Holding a special party leaders meeting prior to this President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of the urgent need for the immediate adoption of the Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill. While the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, National People’s Party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Dulles Alahapperuma and the Tamil National Alliance boycotted the meeting, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Maithripala Srisena, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem was in attendance.

Premadasa speaking in parliament yesterday admitted the proposed bill was a good move. However, he opposed any motion to adopt it immediately, claiming there may be a possibility of postponing the upcoming election through the courts. According to the opposition leader as stipulated in the draft candidates will have to provide a formal report regarding their expenses and would be guilty of an offence if they fail to do so. “Even a petition can be filed in this regard and it will create confusion at the March 2023 elections,” he said.

The debate has now been scheduled for today after on Monday the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Justice, Prisons Affairs and Constitutional Reforms decided to postpone the second reading debate on the Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill by one month.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella accused the government of attempting to expedite the bill following discussions with the President in an effort to delay the local government election. However, in response Minister of Justice, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe denied such an attempt was afoot.

The NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the debate on the second reading of this bill should be postponed by a month as agreed previously.