Campaign finance: Receipts mandatory for every contribution and expense
By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
The requirement of a receipt should be made mandatory for every contribution and expense related to campaign finance to allow for traceability and to check for conformity with campaign finance provisions, Democracy Reporting International, a Germany-based non-Governmental organisation stated in a paper on Sri Lanka.
Also, sufficient human and financial resources for the campaign finance oversight must be ensured alongside sufficient time to provide a thorough oversight of campaign financing. Further, clear policies and procedures to be followed by the Election Commission (EC) must be established so that decisions are based on clear and objective criteria. Moreover, political parties and candidates must be provided with clear, consistent and open guidance. Additionally, oversight activities must be transparent and open to scrutiny by the civil society and international organisations as well as the public. These recommendations were made by them in a briefing paper published on campaign finance in Sri Lanka containing recommendations for its effective implementation.
“Concerning oversight and monitoring-related standards, the oversight body the EC has to be structurally and operationally independent from political influence. Its adequate appointment process and composition should ensure the independence and impartiality of its members, while enforcing campaign finance rules. Campaign finance officials should be adequately trained, so that they understand their roles. Electoral contestants should have confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of the EC, while it may be held accountable as the case may be. Effective oversight is based on the undertaking of a thorough examination and verification of campaign finance reports and the investigation of breaches of political finance regulations, founded on investigative powers. The EC should not only be allowed to request information from contestants, but also conduct arbitrary on-site verifications. There is no effective oversight if the EC is mandated to make certifications solely on the basis of information submitted to it, without examining whether that information is realistic and accurate,” they said.