Over Rs47bn to be made available for polls
Though there is no direct mention of budgetary allocation for the upcoming general election in the budget speech of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the government is determined to meet all the related expenses in the new financial year. It was learnt that the government had already released Rs5 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan and allocated another over Rs42 billion for the general election to be held later this year. The total amount comes to around Rs47bn. This development puts at rest speculations regarding the fate of elections this year. In a chat with media persons the other day, Ishaq Dar reportedly explained that Rs42 billion had been allocated for the nationwide electoral exercise. Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastagir had also indicated the other day that allocations had been made for the holding of general election on the same day for the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.
The ECP had requested the Ministry of Finance in November last year that a rationalised amount of Rs47.42 billion might be approved and be released in two phases: Rs31.42billion during the current fiscal year and another Rs16 billion during the next fiscal (2023-24). However, the ministry wrote back to the commission in February this year, asking the commission to delay its demand. In view of the financial position, the government has been advocating for holding the electoral exercise for the national and provincial legislatures on the same day, as this would save billions. “Indeed, if the government goes for separate elections for legislatures, then it will have to make allocations accordingly. Likewise, if a general election in Punjab is held and it is followed by the poll drill in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it will further add to the expenditures,” a senior ECP official said when contacted by this correspondent.