ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday asked the government officials to explain the announcement of farmers' relief package by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ahead of the upcoming local body polls in Sindh and Punjab.
ECP spokesperson Khursheed Alam told Dawn.com that the commission's secretary Babar Yaqub has issued notices to the secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the secretary of Ministry of Food Security and Research to explain the announcement of farmers' development package by the premier after the LG polls' schedule was already announced.
The commission termed the move a violation of ECP code of conduct.
Earlier in a press release, the ECP also trashed rumours that the body has given clean chit to PM Nawaz, who also heads his own political party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N).
The rumour was carried as a news item by some local media houses.
"It is clarified that such news do not have any substance and no statement in this behalf was either issued by or asked from the commission", read the press release.
According to a report published in Dawn on September 16, Nawaz announced a relief package of Rs341 billion to revive the farm sector.
The package provides a direct benefit of Rs147 billion to small farmers across the country, whereas an additional loan of Rs194 billion will be available to the agriculture sector. The federal cabinet has approved the package.
While the ECP had already announced the schedule of first phase of polls on August 27 and that of second phase on September 3.
The ECP code of conduct for LG polls in Sindh and Punjab categorically states that the political parties and candidates participating in the elections shall not offer or announce any financial help to any person or institution after the announcement of schedule for elections.
Major opposition parties had already rejected the package for farmers and termed it a ‘pack of lies’ and gimmickry of the PML-N government aimed at influencing coming LG elections.
Through the aforementioned package, the government has decided to provide a cash support of Rs5,000 with immediate effect to the growers of cotton and rice as a direct relief.
The amount will be disbursed among the farmers owning a maximum of 12.5 acres of land. It will cost the government Rs20bn. The amount will be equally shared by the provincial government concerned.