Poll expenses likely to touch Rs 20 billion

  • Rs 10.3b already approved for Election Commission
  • MoHA yet to finalise budget required for security

Feb 24, 2017-

When the country holds local level elections on May 14, they will be first in two decades, and the cost is likely to shoot up to a whopping Rs 18-Rs20 billion. 

The Cabinet has already approved Rs 10.3 billion for the Election Commission (EC). Besides EC’s logistics and other preparations, a huge amount of money will be required for election security, for which the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to provide details. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi on Thursday held a meeting with Home Secretary  Lokdarsan Regmi and chiefs of three security agencies—Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force and the National Intelligence Department—to discuss security issues and the budget that will be required for the successful and peaceful conduct of the elections. 

Home Secretary Regmi later held another meeting with security agencies to finalise the budget for elections. 

Chiefs of security agencies are learnt to have said that at least 200,000 security personnel need to be deployed for election security and that “temporary police personnel” have to be hired. It is estimated that the government will have to allocate around eight to ten billion rupees for security arrangements. 

A security chief told the Post that the budget would be finalised only after the number of security personnel to be deployed is calculated. 

Rs 20 billion has already been earmarked through the budget for local elections. 

The country has not held local elections since 1997.

The last time the country voted was in 2013, when second Constituent Assembly elections were held. 

The EC had spent Rs 4.26 billion for logistics, training and human resource management then, according to former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti. The government had deployed over 150,000 security personnel and hired 40,000 individuals as temporary police. A total of Rs 16 billion was spent during the second CA elections. 

The cost stood at Rs 5.15 billion in 2008 when the country voted in the first CA elections. Rs 2.15 billion was spent on security arrangements then. Officials at the Ministry of Finance said the ministry is ready to manage resources needed for holding local level elections. 

The Rs 10.3 billion approved by the government for the EC does not include security expense. “The EC’s budget will be used for training, logistics and human resource mobilisation,” said Surya Prasad Acharya, spokesperson for the EC. 

A sizeable amount of fund will be required to print ballot papers and voters’ identity cards, buy ballot boxes and mobilise human resources, said EC officials.  

EC officials said this time election expenses will go up because the number of voters has gone up, more polling stations have to be set up and government staff in more numbers will be required. 

During 2013 CA elections, there were 19,875 polling stations. The EC expects number of polling stations to reach 23,000 for May elections. 

Published: 24-02-2017 07:52

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