The printer of the Sri Lankan government is asking for money to print ballots


Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe had previously blocked the funds. (File)

Colombo, Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan government printer Gangani Liyanage on Thursday submitted written requests to both the finance minister and police chief to hold the much-delayed municipal elections now scheduled for April 25.

Liyanage’s office said the printer asked for money in her letter to KM Mahinda Siriwardana, the finance minister – a shortage of money caused the postponement of the elections originally scheduled for March 9.

Her inability to print the ballots to conduct the postal ballot from February 21 to 24 had previously caused the election commission to postpone the election.

Liyanage said that by the time the election was postponed, she had received only Rs 40 million out of the estimated total cost of Rs 500 million.

In her letter to police chief CD Wickramaratne, she asked for the deployment of more than 60 police officers to protect the government printer’s premises.

As the government printer was unable to print the ballots, the main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), who took a case to the Supreme Court for intervention, accused the President Ranil Wickremesinghe-led government of being afraid of to undermine elections and democracy for political advantage.

The Supreme Court issued a directive to the Treasury that the conduct of the poll should not be impeded.

By order of the court, the election date was set for April 25 and voting would take place by mail between March 18 and 21.

As many as 340 municipal councils are appointed for a term of four years.

Elections have been postponed since March last year, when the country plunged into a severe economic crisis, leading to the ousting of the powerful Rajapaksa family from the country’s politics.

The Wickremesinghe-led government had previously blocked allocated funds in an attempt to halt the election, halting the printing of ballots.

While the electoral defeat in local government polls will not immediately undermine the Wickremesinghe-Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) government, it fears the result will exacerbate political instability and accelerate its negotiations on a $2.9 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund will undermine. (IMF).

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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