Suspension of printing of ballot paper: EC urged to question Govt. Printer

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By Saman Indrajith

The JVP-led NPP yesterday called on the National Elections Commission to summon the Government Printer, Gangani Liyanage, and to inquire from her who had asked her to suspend the printing of ballot papers for the March 09 local council polls.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, former JVP MP and NPP national executive Committee Member Sunil Handunnetti said: “We have information she was summoned to the President’s House and pressured to stop printing ballot papers. This is an undue influence on a public official. We call on the Government Printer to stand against these pressures and work for the benefit of the people.”

“The process of printing ballot papers and other material for the election has abruptly been suspended owing to pressure and influence. We call on the Government Printer not to succumb to political pressure and act in the interests of the people. We also call on the Elections Commission to summon her and question her on these pressures. We checked this issue and found that the Department of Government Printing has not suspended any other work. Printing of other materials is in progress without any problem. Only the printing of ballot papers has been suspended. The Department has a special team of workers for this purpose. The reason that has been given is an issue of not having funds for making additional payments and overtime payments for the workers involved in printing the ballot papers. It is a known fact that such payments are paid very much later. There has been no procedure of making such payments in advance. These workers receive their monthly salaries and overtime payments as usual. There is no valid reason for this suspension, except for undue pressure from those who want to put off the elections, in fear of losing it,” Handunnetti said.

He said that the Government Printer was a public official and she has to give priority to the public interest. “The entire nation wants the elections held on time. The Supreme Court has given its approval and created an environment conducive for that. The Department of Government Printing should now act accordingly as per the guidelines set by the National Elections Commission. It is a punishable offence to act otherwise. The Government Printer’s responsibility is to the people as she is paid from public money. She should keep in her mind that it is always better to act according to the law rather than going against the interests of the people,” Handunnetti said.

NPP National Ex-co member Attorney-at-Law Janaka Adhikari also addressed the press.

Courtesy The Island

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