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Sunday January 29, 2023

ECP wants Rs14.39bn extra as polls cost goes up

The ECP said that the cost of holding elections has gone up from Rs47.417 billion to Rs61.805 billion, asking the Finance Ministry to release billions of rupees

January 26, 2023
The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. The ECP website
The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. The ECP website

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday said that the cost of holding elections has gone up from Rs47.417 billion to Rs61.805 billion, asking the Finance Ministry to release billions of rupees.

The electoral body has written to the Ministry of Finance for Rs14.388 billion for conduct of upcoming general elections and release of Rs20.544 billion in the current financial year for provincial assemblies of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and by-elections for 93 seats of the National Assembly.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan is constitutionally bound to hold General Elections under provisions of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan read with Section 219 of the Elections Act-2017… in the emerging situation, General Elections of Provincial Assemblies Punjab & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and bye-elections on 93 vacant seats of National Assembly have to be conducted by the Election Commission of Pakistan within 90 days and 60 days after the dissolution of Provincial Assemblies under the Article 224 (2) and resignations of the members National Assembly respectively,” the letter says.

According to the letter, for conducting Provincial Election of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Rs25.44 billion out of approved Rs.47.417 billion needs to be released in this financial year while Rs5.00 billion have already been released. The remaining sum of Rs20.544 billion may please be released at the earliest.

“In view of the above mentioned facts, total cost of General Elections has increase from Rs47.417 billion to Rs.61.805 billion, therefore, an additional TSG of Rs14.388 billion will be required for conduct General Elections in the country in phases,” it says.

Separately, the ECP has written to governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) suggesting holding of general elections in the two provinces between April 9 and April 17.

The commission proposed that the electoral exercise in Punjab may be held between April 9 and 13 and in the KP between April 15 and 17, according to copies of the letters available with this correspondent.

The letter says it is stated that the provincial assembly of Punjab stood dissolved on 14th of January, and Article 224(2) of the Constitution provides that in case National Assembly or a provincial assembly is dissolved, a general election to the assembly shall be held within 90 days after dissolution of the assembly.

Article 224 (2) reads: “When the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly is dissolved, a general election to the Assembly shall be held within a period of ninety days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days after the conclusion of the polls.”

Under Article 105(3)(a) of the Constitution, the governor is mandated to fix a date, not later than ninety days from the date of dissolution for holding general elections to the assembly. Under Sub Section (1) of Section 57 of the Elections Act 2017, consultation with the ECP is required for fixation of date of poll. The ECP has to announce the election programme within seven days of the announcement of the election date under sub Section 2 of Section 57 of the Act.

In case of Punjab the period of 90 days will start from January 14 and as such the poll day may not be taken beyond 13th April.

In the letter wrote to the KP governor, the ECP said that the provincial assembly stood dissolved on January 18 and Article 224(2) of the Constitution.

The period of 90 days will start from January 18 and the polls day may not be taken beyond April 17. Likewise, for completion of all activities mentioned in the election programme as per Section 57 (2) of the Elections Act 2017 minimum 54 days will be required. For completion of all electoral activities smoothly the ECP proposed that the poll date may be fixed between April 15 to 17.

The electoral body requested the governor to give the date for polling.

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