Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on Monday that there was “no crisis” in meeting the financial needs of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ahead of the Feb 8 polls.
“There is no crisis on meeting the financial needs of the ECP,” he said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Whatever budgeted amount is needed by the ECP will be released as per its needs accordingly,” he said.
The statement came after media outlets reported that the commission had summoned the finance secretary today for the ministry’s failure to provide the funds allocated for general elections.
Solangi added that the federal cabinet had already approved Rs42 billion for the ECP’s “budgetary needs”, adding that Rs10bn had already been released. The minister said the electoral watchdog had approached the government to release Rs17.4bn out of the remaining budgeted amount.
“We firmly stand behind the ECP in holding free and fair elections as mandated by Article 218(3) of the constitution,” the information minister concluded.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Imdadullah Bosal visited the ECP headquarters in Islamabad earlier today. During a brief interaction with the media while leaving the premises, he said the finance department would release the funds required for the upcoming elections.
“We will release the funds […] in two days,” Bosal said. “Whatever their (ECP’s) need is,” he added.
Last week, the ECP had rejected what it said were “baseless and misleading” reports about a delay in the upcoming general elections.
The statement had come in response to media reports that a request was submitted to the ECP to postpone the general elections, citing security concerns in Balochistan and the recent wave of terrorism.
The ECP and President Arif Alvi had agreed earlier this month on Feb 8, 2024, as the date for polls — an announcement that has stirred activity in the camps of major political parties.