Government urged to tax political parties and follow the money track
By: Staff Writer
January 23, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s crucial 2024 elections, presidential or parliamentary will decide Sri Lanka’s future compelling voters to cast their votes very cautiously and intelligently as it will be their last chance to elect their leader and representatives in parliament to rule the country without fooling masses, several political analysts warned.
The focus is not only on the economy but also on the need for stronger institutions and governance mechanisms. Weaknesses in governance are largely faulted for triggering the economic crisis.
All these issues may make voter behaviour more unpredictable and tempt presidential or parliamentary election candidates to make impractical promises in their attempt of attracting votes, they said.
While the tax burden is deeply unpopular, Sri Lankans will have to live with higher taxes, a public spending squeeze and a drop in living standards regardless of the promises politicians make before the 2024 elections
In this context, the voters have been advised to think twice before leap as some political parties who have not been able to come to power with the ballot will be trying to fool the people by propagating corruption slogan with a promise punishing previous corrupt rulers and confiscating their wealth.
Therefore intelligent voters have the responsibility of demanding financial reports, Constitutions and manifestos of all the political parties contesting the upcoming elections.
Politics is one of the biggest businesses in the country. Party leaders talk eloquently about endemic bribery and corruption in the country, but political parties are the biggest bribe-takers.
Slush funds are maintained from milking businessmen at village and city levels whose favours have to be returned by doctoring tenders.
These unaccounted-for funds go into paying for party rallies, and buses to transport their supporters, while a part goes to the pockets of organisers. Separately, monies have to be spent to buy members at crucial votes.
Vajira Abeywardena, Member of Parliament, who commented further on this matter, said: There is no other country in the world that has about 75 political parties like Sri Lanka.
That is how the divisions of our country have been created. It has created disunity in the country. That situation also led to many destructions in the country after independence.
How do these parties get money? There is no system to track who is spending. Therefore, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has passed a bill in the Parliament that will enable him to find out how these parties spend money in elections.
On January 19, 2023, the Parliament of Sri Lanka passed the Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill, the first framework to regulate election campaign finance in the country.
The Leader of Mawbima Janatha Party Dilith Jayaweera said that all funds of political parties should be investigated and brought under income tax.
He noted that the JVP which is campaigning to catch thieves will have to publish the assets and liabilities of its leaders who are leading luxury lives.
Financial records of eight political parties released by the Elections Commissioner through a RTI request put forward by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), several years ago has shown the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to be the most financially secure and asset rich party among the main political parties.
TISL has released financial records for the parties; JHU, SLMC, JVP, SLFP, UNP, CWC, ITAK and UPFA some time ago.