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ECP Anticipates Rs17bn In Election Funding

Election Funding

ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry has assured the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of releasing Rs17 billion promptly, addressing concerns raised by the poll watchdog regarding a delay in the urgently needed funds for the February 8 elections. Secretary Finance Imdadullah Bosal, summoned to the ECP to clarify the delay, affirmed that the funds would be released within a day or two, with expectations of the release on Tuesday.

Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi dispelled concerns, assuring that the ECP’s financial needs would be met without any crisis. The ECP had initially requested Rs51 billion for the election funding but later settled for Rs47 billion, of which Rs5 billion was released in the previous fiscal year. The government had allocated Rs42 billion in the budget, with only Rs10 billion disbursed so far.

The Finance Ministry’s delayed response prompted the ECP to summon the finance secretary, and sources suggest that the chief election commissioner contemplated writing to the caretaker Prime Minister for intervention. However, after the finance secretary’s assurance, such measures may not be necessary.

In a related development, the ECP has sought the deployment of the army and civil armed forces outside polling stations due to a shortfall of over 277,000 police personnel nationwide. The ECP’s letter to the Secretary Interior emphasized the need for Pakistan Army and Civil Armed Forces to ensure smooth elections amid the fragile security and law and order situation. The letter urged confirmation of the deployment by December 7, 2023.

Despite challenges, the ECP remains committed to organizing elections in accordance with the constitution and relevant laws, emphasizing the shared responsibility of executive authorities and law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order during the electoral process.

The ECP plans to issue the election program shortly, expecting cooperation from the Ministry of Interior in light of the urgent security concerns. Reports indicate shortfalls in police personnel across provinces, emphasizing the need for swift action to address security arrangements for the upcoming elections.

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