ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan has proposed legislation to the government to almost triple the election campaign expenditures for the upcoming candidates, sources informed APP on Tuesday.
According to these sources, the Commission has recommended to enhance the election campaign expenditures for provincial assembly candidates to the tune of Rupees three million and for National Assembly candidates to Rupees five million.
At present the election campaign expenditure limit is Rupees one million for provincial assembly candidates and Rupees 1.5 million for National Assembly candidates, the sources added.
When contacted, an ECP official confirmed the proposal and said, it has been moved to facilitate the candidates who have vast constituencies.
However, the proposal is still pending with the government as proper legislation was needed for enhancing the limits.
“The limits at present are insufficient to meet the election campaign expenditure. We know that the candidates submit with us wrong figures.This legislation will facilitate them to avoid submitting false statement,” the official said.
Justifying further the proposal, he said, in certain constituencies in Balochistan and KPK, the candidates have to reach out to remote and far flung areas.
Moreover, expenditures on holding meetings and processions also cost more than the cost a decade back.
“Therefore, when the candidates exceed the limits, they submit engineered figures to justify their expenditure,” the official mentioned.
The officials however elaborated that the Commission will have a strict vigil on election campaign expenditures.
“No matter if we have suggested increase but we are also determined to strictly monitor the expenditures.”
The official quoted the example of India where Income Tax Officers monitor the spending and report to their Commission. “Although our ECP still awaits legislation on political financing, yet it has started monitoring the election expenditures.”
To this effect, the official mentioned to Bannu and Multan elections four teams each were deputed to monitor the spending. “We had constituted four teams each of every constituency with every team having four members.”
When asked about mechanism of assessing the expenditure, the official said, these teams were assigned to make video of rallies, processions and meetings; hoardings and billboards and wall chalking and the meals served at the congregations.
“Through this mechanism we could calculate spending to some extent although, it could have not been fully authentic since there is no laid down mechanism.”
When questioned validity and applicability of this mechanism, the official said, of course it is a complicated mechanism. “But, somebody has to start somewhere.
We have started this practice and hope to bring to it more accuracy and transparency.”
Election Commission is diligently pursuing the reform agenda for making the election system in the country more credible and applicable.
Numbers of proposals are with the government as the Commission awaits legislation on critical issues like political financing and making Code of Conduct for Elections, part of the Representation of the People Act.