Polls cost over Rs. 6 b

The upcoming 2020 parliamentary election is said to cost over Rs. 6 billion, following the implementation of
the Covid-19 health guidelines issued by health services, The Sunday Morning learnt.

Election Secretariat Chief Accountant G.R.A.K. Gamlath, speaking to The Sunday Morning, said that they estimate to incur Rs. 6,250 million to conduct the general election, which is to be held on 5 August.

“The previous election cost Rs. 4,575 million. The target for this election was Rs. 5,500 million, but with the Covid-19 health guidelines, this amount would increase Rs. 6,250 million,” he said.

He said that Rs. 5 billion had been allocated in the Interim Budget from June till August.

“Rs. 5 billion has been allocated in the Budget for these three months. We have been promised another Rs. 2 billion after the August Budget.”

He said Rs. 5 billion would be sufficient for the three months and that additional funding would be released through the new budget after the election.

“We have allotted Rs. 1 billion for institutions outside of the Election Secretariat such as the Police, Postal Service, and the Government Press. We expect to utilise the remaining Rs. 4 billion in these three months,” Gamlath said.
He said that expenditure for June would amount to Rs. 750 million while Rs. 1,500 million would be required in July and Rs. 1,750 million in August, for expenses.

“The shortfall (in) finances will be given after August, so some officials will only be paid in September and October; this would amount to around Rs. 3 billion.”

He said the amount was inclusive of expenses being incurred for the mock polls to be held in the coming week.

“We started election-related activities from the beginning of March, so we predict that from that point on, the expenditure for the election would be Rs. 6.2 billion,” he said, adding that a breakdown of the Covid-19-related expenses had not been calculated as the Secretariat had still not decided on certain aspects such as how many masks, gloves, etc. would be required.

By Skandha Gunasekara