KATHMANDU, Feb 25: The Election Commission (EC) has decided not to accept any foreign aid for holding the upcoming local elections, as donor agencies might not be able to deliver within the short span of time remaining.
The election body conveyed this message to the heads of foreign diplomatic missions and other donor agencies in Kathmandu at a meeting organized Thursday. Heads of diplomatic missions and other agencies based in Kathmandu were invited to the meeting to apprise them of the EC's preparations so far for the elections. The donor agencies and embassy officials were urged to focus more on fostering an environment conducive to polls and monitoring the election process.
"The Election Commission will manage the resources required for the elections on its own," said Election Commissioner Ishwari Prasad Paudyal, confirming that foreign aid was not essential for the EC this time.
The government, immediately after announcing the poll date last week, had decided to provide Rs 10 billion for holding the elections. It will also allocate additional budgets for the security agencies-Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force (APF). The security agencies have sought additional funds for the security arrangements, according to government sources.
The election commissioners decided not to accept any foreign aid as they concluded that the international agencies would mainly seek publicity mileage for "their small amounts of money" instead of providing any substantive support. Stating that holding elections should be taken as a key task of the state, they stressed the need for using state funds for such purposes.
An informed source said one of the reasons behind the decision not to accept foreign aid was that the foreign agencies said they might not be able to provide their support within the short period remaining. As less than 80 days are left before the poll date, the foreign agencies found the remaining time inadequate to follow through with their aid procedures. "So we felt that their support may not work out properly," said a source involved in taking the decision.
Donors in the past had contributed a significant amount of money to the election commission to conduct elections. Apart from funds, they also provided logistics support.
According to details provided by the EC, donors had contributed Rs 3 billion for the Constituent Assembly election in 2013. The funds were provided by various donors for the Nepal Peace Trust Fund and were later used for holding the elections. Of the total election expenditure of Rs 4.6 billion, only Rs 1.26 billion was provided by the government.
In addition to cash support, Japan had donated ballot boxes and India provided 48 vehicles to the EC. Similarly, UNDP had helped to arrange the voter IDs and institutions like IFES and UNDP helped with election related trainings.