Monday, December 04, 2023
Ministry says funds disbursement requires multiple approvals.
Following concerns raised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Finance Secretary Imdad Ullah Bosal on Monday assured the electoral watchdog that funds for upcoming general elections will be released in a day or two.
Bosal was summoned by the electoral body after the Finance Ministry was irresponsive regarding the provision of funds, allocated for the polls, in the budget.
The development came as Pakistan is preparing for general polls scheduled to take place on February 8, 2024.
The secretary said that the Finance Ministry will release the required funds by the Election Commission. The ministry said that the letter written by the electoral body on November 14 was received on November 18.
"Disbursement of funds requires approval at various levels," the secretary added.
The secretary was speaking to the media after holding a meeting with the ECP.
The secretary had arrived at the ECP after sources had told Geo News that the ECP has taken notice of the non-provision of funds by the government.
The government, as per the sources, had allocated Rs42 billion for the general elections in the current financial year's budget. The Finance Ministry, however, only provided Rs10 billion to the ECP so far, they added.
Disbursement of the remaining amount, according to the sources, is being delayed without any reasonable justification.
"Rs17 billion are urgently needed for holding the general elections on February 8."
The sources told Geo News that the Finance Ministry was repeatedly approached for the provision of this amount, while a written reminder was also sent to the ministry for immediate provision of money.
However, no positive response has yet been given regarding the disbursement of money, they added.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has decided to inform the Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar about the non-provision of funds by the finance ministry.
A detailed letter is also being written to the premier today, the sources said.
Later, caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi said there is no crisis in meeting the financial needs of the election commission.
In a post on social media platform X today, he said the cabinet has approved Rs42 billion for the budgetary needs of the ECP and notably, Rs10 billion have already been disbursed.
The minister said whatever budgeted amount is needed by the ECP, it would be released as per its needs accordingly.
Solangi reaffirmed that the government stands firmly behind the ECP in holding free and fair elections.
Pakistan is now approaching elections with polls scheduled to be held on February 8 2024. All political parties have geared up for a face-off in the run-up to the elections, while the ECP has notified the final list of delimitation of constituencies of the national and four provincial assemblies.
The electoral watchdog is also expected to announce the election schedule, sometime this week. It had earlier stated that the final list of delimitations would be published on December 15 but it was later revised to November 30.
In its notification, the ECP said that according to Article 51(3) of the Constitution, the National Assembly consists of 266 general seats, with 60 seats reserved for women and additionally 10 for non-Muslims.