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Sri Lanka

Campaign Finance (LK0020)



Action Plan: Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive


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 Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Legislation & Regulation, Open Parliaments, Political Integrity

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sri Lanka End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Sri Lanka Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



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

Commitment Text:

Strengthen the anti-corruption framework to increase constructive public participation (Part V)


Main Objective:


  • 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

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full text of the commitment, see the Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016–2018 at [272]

Commitment Aim:

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.


Midterm: Limited

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). [273]

Media reports [274] 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. [275] TISL noted that the Elections Commission had not publicly disclosed any related developments. [276] The Elections Commission, or the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Corruption or Bribery (CIABOC), could not be reached for comment. [277]

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, [278] Parliament, [279] provincial councils, [280] or local government [281] contained regulations for political campaign financing. [282] 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. [283] In Sri Lanka, candidates showering money on voters to sway voting had become a common feature of election campaigning. [284] In previous elections, presidential candidates have spent large amounts of money on elaborate public campaigns. [285]

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.

Carried Forward?

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.

[272] 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.

[273] Sankhitha Gunaratne (Transparency International), interview by IRM researcher, 17 October 2017.

[274] Z. Imtiaz, “Ceiling on Election Campaign Financing” (Daily News, 18 October 2017)

[275] Maheshi Herat (Transparency International Sri Lanka), interview by IRM researcher, 27 September 2018.

[276] Id.

[277] The IRM researcher made several unsuccessful attempts to reach relevant representatives in August and September 2018. Attempts were made via telephone and email.

[278] Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981,

[279] Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981,

[280] Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988,

[281] Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, No. 53 of 1946,

[282] Imtiaz.

[283] “Elections and Political Finance” (Themes, Open Government Partnership, 2017)

[284] Imtiaz.

[285] “Former President Spent over Rs.2 bn. in State Funds on Election Ads” (The Sunday Times, 18 January 2015)


  1. Integrity Officers to Decrease Bribery and Corruption

    LK0024, 2019, Capacity Building

  2. Asset Declaration System

    LK0025, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  3. Increase Use of RTI

    LK0026, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Citizen Participation in Health

    LK0027, 2019, E-Government

  5. Campaign Against Youth Drug Use

    LK0028, 2019, Education

  6. Open Data

    LK0029, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Agriculture Support Policy

    LK0030, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Participation for Persons with Disabilities

    LK0031, 2019, Land Rights & Spatial Planning

  9. Disability Rights Bill

    LK0032, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  10. Disaster Management Planning

    LK0033, 2019, Capacity Building

  11. National Environmental Policy

    LK0034, 2019, Environment and Climate

  12. CEDAW Implementation

    LK0035, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  13. Local Service Delivery

    LK0036, 2019, E-Government

  14. Feedback on Public Bus

    LK0037, 2019, E-Government

  15. Implementing UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in a Participatory Manner

    LK0038, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Improving Public Access to Preventive and Curative Strategies to Combat Chronic Kidney Disease

    LK0001, 2016, Health

  17. Transparent Policy to Provide Safe and Affordable Medicines for All

    LK0002, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. National Health Performance

    LK0003, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Ensuring Transparency and Impartiality in Teacher Recruitment Policy and Process in Sri Lanka

    LK0004, 2016, Access to Information

  20. Enhance the Services of Government Information Center (GIC- 1919) for Inclusive, Transparent, Accountable and Efficient Governance, Using ICT As Enabler

    LK0005, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promote the Open Data Concept and Delivering the Benefits to Citizens Through ICT

    LK0006, 2016, Access to Information

  22. National Environmental Act (NEA) Amendments

    LK0007, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  23. Coast Conservation

    LK0008, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Flora and Fauna Protection

    LK0009, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Transparent and Accountable Procurement System for Local Authorities in Sri Lanka

    LK0010, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  26. Local Authority Procurement System Implementation

    LK0011, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  27. Annual Work Plan of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs to Include a Transparent and Accountable Process to Implement Selected Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Observations.

    LK0012, 2016, Gender

  28. CEDAW Implementation – Accountability

    LK0013, 2016, Gender

  29. CEDAW – Inclusion

    LK0014, 2016, Gender

  30. Strengthening Women Participation in the Political Decision Making Process at the Local Level

    LK0015, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  31. Strengthen the Anti-Corruption Framework to Increase Constructive Public Participation

    LK0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  32. Implement UNCAC

    LK0017, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  33. Coordination Among Anti-Corruption Agencies

    LK0018, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  34. Corruption and Money Laundering

    LK0019, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  35. Campaign Finance

    LK0020, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  36. Disseminate Asset Declaration

    LK0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  37. Starred commitment The Enactment and Implementation of the RTI Act

    LK0022, 2016, Access to Information

  38. Proactive Disclosure

    LK0023, 2016, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership