May 21, 2020

‘Remove politicians from Covid-19 relief programme’

The National Election Commission has requested the removal of regional and local politicians from the programme to disburse the Rs.5,000 grant, to those affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

A letter from the Chairman of the Election Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya has been directed to the Secretary to the President, the Secretary to the Cabinet Office and Secretaries to the Ministries of Public Administration & Local Government and Provincial Council, Finance and Women and Child Affairs.

The letter states the Election Commission has received a considerable number of complaints pertaining to the programme.

According to the complaints, the government is attempting to promote its political parties by disbursing the Rs.5,000 grant.

The Election Commission therefore requested the government to instruct officials to refrain from promoting any individual or political party, during the disbursement of the Rs.5,000 grant.

The Election Commission said the government should deliberate whether it should in fact provide the grant to the public once again in the month of June, if the country and day-to-day activities return to normalcy.

The Election Commission letter said if the government intends on providing financial aid, then it should indicate the process is not affiliated to any political faction.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also commented on the program yesterday while speaking to media after an event.

The Premier stressed the Election Commissioner cannot make requests to prevent the grant from being handed out to the public, adding the allowance will be disbursed within the month of May.

However Premier Rajapaksa said the Election Commissioner had called for the allowance to not be handed out from next month, adding the government must also heed the requests of the National Election Commission.