The deferrals of the Nepal local elections time and again have incurred the nation an excess expenditure of over Rs 4 billion, it has been revealed. Election officers and security agencies who do not hesitate to take advantage of the situation for their own financial gains have also contributed to the exorbitant amount of the excess expenditures.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) had initially estimated the security costs of holding the local elections at around Rs 7.5 billion. However, circumstances changed on April 26 when the government announced to hold the elections in two phases. The government decided to hold the first round of elections in provinces 3, 4 and 6 on May 14 and the second round of elections in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 on June 14. Following the government’s decision, MoHA on May 22 decided to demand an additional amount of Rs 2.69 billion from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) citing the extended tenure of security personnel and officers deployed for the elections.
While the MoF was reviewing the file sent by MoHA requesting an increase in the budget, the government again rescheduled the second phase of local elections for June 28, two weeks later than originally scheduled. Yet again on June 15, a Cabinet meeting deferred the local elections in Province 2 and rescheduled it for September 18. Election calendar in provinces 1, 5 and 7 were also revised, but without affecting the poll date of June 28. After the elections got deferred for the third time, MoHA has again demanded additional Rs 3.6 billion for security personnel and officers deployed by them for security during the elections. In total, they have now demanded over Rs 6 billion in the two counts.
Although the first and second rounds of elections have been held successfully, the Election Commission (EC) is yet to hold the third round of polls in Province 2 slated for September 18. The budget released by MoF does not include the election costs of the third round. “We estimate the cost for holding the elections in Province 2 to be around Rs 1 billion,” said the source.