Campaign Finance (LK0020)
Action Plan: Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Office of the President, CIABOC (Independent Commission)
Support Institution(s): FCID, Attorney-General’s Department, All organizations and coalitions interested in anti-corruption efforts (Civil Society, Private Sector)
Policy AreasAnti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Legislation & Regulation, Legislature, Money in Politics
Commitment: Strengthen the anti-corruption framework to increase constructive public participation
Freedom from corruption is a crucial and inseparable element of open government, and must be approached from the dual perspective of apprehension and prevention. The acknowledgment of the prevalence of corruption in the state sector and elsewhere serves as a necessary precedent to addressing the problem in a comprehensive fashion. A multi-stakeholder approach is necessary to ensure the method of addressing the problem is representative and participatory, while ensuring a strong legislative framework that is compliant with Sri Lanka’s UNCAC obligations.
Timeline: August 2016- June 2018
The enactment and implementation of the RTI Act
Lead Agency Office of the President, CIABOC (Independent Commission)
Other Actors FCID, Attorney-General’s Department, All organizations and coalitions interested in anti-corruption efforts (Civil Society, Private Sector)
Issues to be Addressed 1. To ensure conformity with the Constitution (Article 156A) and State’s UNCAC obligations, including the need for the inclusion of the private sector in the anti-corruption framework as referred to in Milestone 1.
2. To ensure coordination and information sharing among various anti-corruption agencies.
3. Lack of an assessment and the findings to be published on the requirement for a cadre of independent investigators on corruption issues.
4. Lack of a national corruption prevention strategy.
5. Need to regulate political campaign financing including disclosure of donors and resource providers.
6. Inability to disseminate asset declarations available to the public.
7. Address the disconnection in the mandate of corruption investigation and money laundering investigations.
8. The need to amend section 17 of the CIABOC Act to share information between corruption investigation bodies.
Main Objective To strengthen the anti-corruption framework and facilitate tri partite; public, private, civil society oversight and ownership of anti-corruption efforts.
OGP Challenge Improve public service deliveries, economical and effective management of state resources, constructive civic engagement in public decision making mechanisms and increase public integrity.
OGP Principles Transparency Accountability Public Participation6. Government to amendment the election laws to include a disclosure (declarations register) of the quantum and sources of campaign contributions. New Jan. 2017 Dec. 2018
IRM End of Term Status Summary
20. Regulation of Political Campaign Financing
Strengthen the anti-corruption framework to increase constructive public participation (Part V)
- 1 Government to amend the election laws to include a disclosure (declarations register) of the quantum and sources of campaign contributions.
Responsible institutions: Elections Commission; Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC)
Supporting institutions: Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL)
Start date: January 2017 End date: December 2018
This commitment aimed to strengthen the anti-corruption framework by amending elections laws to regulate and promote disclosure of information pertaining to political campaign financing. To do this, the commitment set out to amend elections laws to include a disclosure (declarations register) of the quantum and sources of campaign contributions.
However, it remained unclear as to whether this commitment was relevant to the values of open government. Public disclosure of the quantity and sources of campaign financing would ensure access to previously undisclosed government-held information. However, the commitment did not specify whether the declarations register would be made public and, if so, how it aimed to do so.
For more information, see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report.
The commitment achieved limited completion by the midterm. According to a representative of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), the Elections Commission developed a strong draft of a potential law pertaining to campaign financing, but had not yet publicised it (Milestone 20.1). 
Media reports  also confirmed that the government had received cabinet approval to draft legislation to control election expenses. It was unclear, however, whether this draft contained a provision to introduce and publish a declarations register, including information on the quantity and sources of campaign contributions.
End of term: Limited
Commitment implementation continued to be limited at the end of term.
Milestone 20.1: A representative of TISL confirmed that discussions on amendments to elections laws were still ongoing.  TISL noted that the Elections Commission had not publicly disclosed any related developments.  The Elections Commission, or the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Corruption or Bribery (CIABOC), could not be reached for comment. 
Did It Open Government?
Access to Information: Did Not Change
Civic Participation: Did Not Change
Public Accountability: Did Not Change
This commitment had unclear relevance to OGP values and thus did not open government.
At the outset of the action plan, none of the laws that exercise jurisdiction over the election of the President,  Parliament,  provincial councils,  or local government  contained regulations for political campaign financing.  The lack of such legislation can diminish the potential for free and fair elections. Campaign financing can determine who competes in elections, how well or widely they are able to disseminate their messaging, and therefore, potentially, who will be elected into office.  In Sri Lanka, candidates showering money on voters to sway voting had become a common feature of election campaigning.  In previous elections, presidential candidates have spent large amounts of money on elaborate public campaigns. 
Therefore, this commitment aimed to amend elections laws to regulate and promote disclosure of information on political campaign financing. However, the Elections Commission was not able to amend elections laws by the end of term; and information on political campaign financing was not made publicly available. In addition, the commitment, as written, did not specify whether, or how, the proposed declarations register intended to disclose government-held information to the public. There was no change in government practice.
Sri Lanka’s second action plan was not released at the time of this report.
In the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report, the IRM researcher recommended that this commitment be carried forward to the next action plan. However, the researcher also proposed a few measures to increase specificity and enhance the impact of this commitment. These include: defining and developing a mechanism through which disclosed information will be made publicly available; and introducing a robust accountability, or grievance redress mechanism, to hold candidates accountable for disclosed information on the financing of political campaigns.
 In the action plan, all milestones pertaining to corruption are listed under a single commitment. For clarity, these milestones have been separated in this report into six different commitments (see 16–21), each looking at distinct components of the anti-corruption framework.
 Sankhitha Gunaratne (Transparency International), interview by IRM researcher, 17 October 2017.
 Maheshi Herat (Transparency International Sri Lanka), interview by IRM researcher, 27 September 2018.
 The IRM researcher made several unsuccessful attempts to reach relevant representatives in August and September 2018. Attempts were made via telephone and email.
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