TISL puts Rs. 824 m Ad spend for Presidential polls

Thursday, 30 September 2010 04:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Says that there were massive abuses of state property and makes recommendations; Tharunyata Hetak estimated to have spent Rs. 172 m of the total ad spend The Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has released their monitoring report on the abuse of public resources during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections 2010 listing daunting abuses. The PPPR in its four interim reports issued between 17 December, 2009 and 26 January, 2010 during the Presidential Election and the three interim reports issued between 8 March, 2010 and 8 April, 2010 during the Parliamentary election highlighted the gross abuse of public resources during the two elections. In these reports the PPPR outlined the abuse of state vehicles and aircraft, state buildings, state media and the participation of public officers in active electioneering, and the overall violation of the provisions contained in the Establishment Code. The report notes abuse of resources at temple trees, SLTB busses and State resources, abuse of State media, electioneering by State employees as well as mismanagement in selected institutions. “The PPPR through a professional agency monitored the cost of political party advertising in the media based on the rate card. According to the calculation the cost of advertising at the Presidential Election was estimated to be Rs. 823,809,000 by the two main candidates, Tharunyata Hetak organisation, which is managed by the President’s eldest son (who was also a candidate at the Parliamentary Election 2010), and the other political parties. A significant expenditure was borne by Tharunyata Hetak estimated at Rs. 172,213,500. Interestingly, there is no law which demands the disclosure of funds nor is there any effective mechanism where the Election Commission can seek such information to ensure accountability of funds.” They recommend the appointment of an independent and effective Election Commission, Appointment of an independent Bribery, Police, and Public Service Commissions. A Commission of Inquiry to be set up to inquire into the abuses of public resources during elections headed by a person with integrity and acceptable to civil society. The other suggestions include recovering the cost of abuse from the errant candidates immediately, independent review and reports by the Commissioner General of Inland Revenue, Customs Department, Financial Investigation Unit of the Central Bank and the Auditor General on the abuse of the state resources and expenditure of campaign funds should be made mandatory, systems audit of the pre and post electoral counting and recording process must be considered to ensure integrity of the process, a clearer legal definition of political advertising must be introduced to prevent use of indirect representations during the campaign free period, the Fiscal Responsibilities Act can be amended to provide for a pre-election report of the Secretary to the Treasury in respect of the Presidential Election.