Finance ministry disburses Rs17.4b to ECP for general elections

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Finance revealed on Tuesday that it disbursed an additional Rs17.4 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in preparation for the upcoming general elections in Islamabad.

This disbursement supplements the initial release of Rs10 billion, bringing the total funds provided by the ministry to the ECP to a cumulative Rs27.4 billion.

The financial infusion comes amid uncertainty over the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8, 2024. Despite this allocation, the ECP has encountered challenges as the finance ministry, despite reminders, has not released the complete budgeted amount of Rs42 billion.

While the Supreme Court has forbidden any discussion regarding a delay in holding elections on February 8, it was disclosed a day earlier that the ECP had summoned the finance secretary before the commission to determine reasons for the delayed fund release as it was initially allocated in the budget.

According to ECP officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Express Tribune, “The finance ministry has failed to release funds for the general elections, and that is why the finance secretary has been summoned before the commission today (Monday).”

The ECP officials maintained that the poll body immediately needed Rs17 billion to hold general elections on February 8. Despite repeated attempts, the finance ministry was unresponsive to requests for the release of the funds.

The officials further stated that a written letter was sent to the finance ministry, but the commission had not received any ‘positive response,’ prompting them to summon the secretary.

Subsequently, sources in the ECP shared, “Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has decided to apprise the prime minister about the situation,” and added, “A letter would be written to the prime minister today in this regard.”