Legal action threatened against Treasury Secy. for failing to turn up at EC to discuss poll funding

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Representatives of Opposition political parties yesterday threatened legal action against Treasury Secretary, Mahinda Siriwardana, for his failure to attend a meeting with the members of the Election Commission (EC) to discuss releasing necessary funds, to hold the local government (LG) elections.

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Ranjith Madduma Bandara told the media, at the Elections Secretariat, that Siriwardana had not turned up for the meeting, stating that he had another meeting to attend to.

“It is obvious that the government wants to delay the election. The Treasury Secretary failed to turn up for a meeting with the Commission despite the Supreme Court asking him to release funds for the elections. If the Treasury Secretary continues to behave like this, we will take legal action against him for contempt of court,” Madduma Bandara said.

Dissident SLPP MP Prof. G.L. Peiris, said that there was no need for the EC to have a discussion with the Treasury Secretary on funds for the polls.

“There is no need to talk and discuss with the Treasury Secretary. The SC didn’t order the Commission to talk to him. The Commission has to order him to release funds. The SC has given a decision, the Finance Secretary has to act according to it. If the Secretary doesn’t comply, he will have to pay the consequences,” Prof. Peiris said.

JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath, MP, said that if the government insisted on delaying the elections, his party would resort to legal action and hold continuous protests.

“We have asked the Elections Commission to hold the elections before 19 March. If that is difficult, we have asked them to hold elections by the first week of April. The government says it has money and that the rupee is rallying. So, they have no problem in holding elections. The Treasury Secretary was to come for a discussion with the Commission on Tuesday, but he did not turn up. If the Treasury Secretary doesn’t do what he was asked to do by the Supreme Court, we will take legal action against him,” Herath said.

SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem, said the EC must demonstrate that it really wanted to hold elections. It was obvious that the government did not want elections, but that was no reason why an independent commission should neglect its duties.

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