Concerns Over Religious Attire Distribution

263722By Camelia Nathaniel

Transparency International has brought to the notice of the Elections Commissioner a programme to distribute religious attire (Sil Redhi) amounting to Rs. 1000 Million across the Island in a manner that supports the UPFA presidential candidate.

S.Ranugge the Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka in his letter to the Elections commissioner urged him to take action to immediately halt this programme of distributing 800,000 packs of Sil Redhi using an exorbitant amount of state funds.

“Each portion of attire is 5 Meters long. The order has been given to 3 private companies charging an amount between 125.00 LKR to 160.00 LKR. This payment has been authorised by the Venerable Watinapaha Somananda Thero through the presidential secretariat. The finances have been obtained by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” stated Ranugge in his letter.

According to Transparency International the distribution of the above mentioned packs are currently underway under the supervision of a Bhikkhu organisation belonging to the Venerable Watinapaha Somananda Thero. They claim that certain temples have been assigned up to 6000 packs while others will receive 1000, 2000 or 500 packs according to the given instructions. Certain temples have refused to accept these clothing materials while others have questioned why the government realised their existence only during election times.

The organisation further points out that according to the provisions of the circular distributed by you as the Elections Commissioner and the Election Law, distribution of free goods using public funds during a time when an election has been announced is illegal.

Hence Transparency International urged the elections commissioner to immediately halt this illegal operation to be held on the upcoming Poya day.