Govt funds released for polls reach Rs 19 billion

Published On: November 24, 2017 07:00 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

Temporary police alone to add Rs 5 billion to election bill  

KATHMANDU, Nov 24: The government has released a total of Rs 19 billion in expenditures to the Election Commission (EC) as well as various security agencies for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial polls.  According to the Ministry of Finance, the EC has already received Rs 10 billion for meeting election-related expenses. 

The government has also doled out Rs 9 billion to various security agencies. The ministry recently provided an additional Rs 5 billion after the earlier budget of Rs 5 billion fell short of meeting election-related expenses. Similarly, the Ministry of Home Affairs and security agencies like Nepal Police, Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and the district administration offices have received Rs 9 billion to ensure security for the House of Representatives and provincial assembly polls that are being held in two phases. 

The elections are to be held on 26 November in 32 districts in the first phase and in the remaining 45 districts on December 7. 

An additional budget of Rs 5 billion is expected to be allocated to the EC by the end of the polls, taking the total election costs to the government to Rs 24 billion. 

“We have released the budget for the election on time as demanded by various authorities,” said Iswhori Aryal, an undersecretary at the budget and programme division of the ministry.

Meanwhile, comparisons with previous polls show that elections are getting more and more costly. 

Officials estimate that nearly Rs 20 billion (not adjusted for inflation since) was spent in the local polls held earlier this year in three phases, a phenomenal jump in costs from the Rs 11 billion in the second constituent assembly polls in 2013. The Finance Ministry is yet to come up with the final cost tally for the polls for local units under the new federal system.  

The government had shelled out Rs 7.5 billion in the first constituent assembly polls held in 2008. The legislative elections in 1999 were concluded at a cost of Rs 2.75 billion.  
According to  Finance Ministry officials, the recruitment of temporary police is driving up the security costs in recent elections. The ministry estimates that the temporary police alone will add Rs 5 billion in security costs for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial polls. The government has recruited nearly 98,000 temporary police.

 Ministry officials say that it costs the government nearly Rs 50,000 per head for the recruitment of temporary police for a period of two months. Temporary police personnel draws a monthly salary of Rs 15,000 plus Rs 4,000 as uniform allowance, Rs 1,000 as travel allowance and Rs 500 per day for meals for 7 days during elections. Including the salary, allowances and training expenses, the government estimates the per head cost of temporary police at Rs 50,000. 

In a bid to cut the security budget, the ministry had given its nod to recruiting only 98,000 temporary police as against a proposal for mobilizing 190,000 for the upcoming polls. 
While the recruitment of temporary police is not a new practice, the surge in numbers  is making the costs shoot up. 

Following a Supreme Court order to print separate ballot papers for parliamentary and provincial polls, the EC was required to destroy all the ballots that had already been printed and print new ones.  

The government's decision to hold elections phase-wise  and the separate ballots for parliamentary and provincial polls have added hugely to election costs.

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