Although the misuse of state property has been in discussion for some time, no government in power has been able to intervene in the matter so far. With the ascendance of the new government, the discussion about state property has resumed.
Specific information regarding the use of state property could be obtained through the Right to Information Act.
Using state property for election propaganda is an offense. The Election Commission informed all candidates both of the opposition and the ruling party not to use state property in any of the campaign activities. However, it is common knowledge that state property belonging to different ministries were used in several campaign activities. Election monitoring organizations have also informed the Election Commission about this matter.
Vehicles belonging to the Ministries and Departments of Public Corporations were the most commonly used state property during the election season. In order to figure out if vehicles were used during the last Parliamentary Elections, 63 RTI applications were lodged to different state ministries.
It is interesting to note that only 43 state institutions responded with information while 20 state ministries did not respond. Two government organizations did not provide any information although a response to the request was made. Information that was revealed regarding the use of state vehicles during the election period is as follows;
The Ministry of Irrigation and Rural Development had not handed over its vehicles
Even after the announcement of the election, the vehicles belonging to the State Ministry of Irrigation and Rural Development had not been handed over to the Minister of State in charge of that Ministry and it was confirmed through election monitoring organizations that those vehicles have been used for electioneering activities.
The minister had handed over some of the vehicles before the election which is listed below;
PC 3572 – Toyota Double Cab Vehicle
KF 1927 – Toyota Prado Jeep Vehicle
PG 0470 – Toyota Double Cab Vehicle
KK 0491 – Toyota Corolla 141 Vehicle
The vehicles which have not been returned are mentioned below;
PC 2692 – Toyota Double Cab
PH 0855 – Mitsubishi Double Cab
PH 0856 – Mitsubishi Double Cab
All these vehicles have been reserved for the activities of the State Ministry of Irrigation and Rural Development. The Minister in office was Roshan Ranasinghe. He is currently representing the Polonnaruwa District securing a seat in Parliament.
The vehicles under the Ministry of Industrial Exports and Investment Promotion have not been handed over
The Ministry of Industrial Exports and Investment Promotion stated that four of the vehicles reserved for the Minister had not been handed over during the election and that those vehicles were in the respective ministers’ person. Thereby,
KU 5861 – Toyota V8
PH 4344 – Toyota Hilux
KU 6279 – Land Rover – Discovery 4
KY 7021 – Land Rover Defender, were the vehicles that had not been returned. Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella was the former minister of Industrial Exports and Investment Promotion. He is elected to the Parliament representing Kandy District.
The vehicles under the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation have not been handed over
The Right to Information request revealed that 4 vehicles of state property belonging to the ministry had not been returned during the election period.
CAQ 1043 – Jeep
CAQ 1047 – Jeep
PH 0668 – Double Cab
KY 5543 – Car, are the vehicles which have not been returned. Mr. Arundika Fernando was the former Minister of Tourism and Aviation. He has been elected to the parliament again this tenure representing the Puttalam District.
The Center for Electoral Violence (CMEV) jointly investigated whether government-owned vehicles were used for electioneering and found that these vehicles were used for electioneering.
Appeals have been made to the institutions that did not provide information that has passed the required period of 14 days.
However, this information proves that Sri Lanka has so far been unable to prevent the misuse of state resources. The time has come for the people to come forward to expose information on state resources being misused in this manner.