In a first, bankers to perform poll duties

Updated July 14, 2018


KARACHI: For the first time in the country’s electoral history, hundreds of bankers will perform election duties across the country as “shortage of staff” has forced the Election Commission of Pakistan to seek services of financial institutions’ employees.

An official said on Friday that the decision had been taken by the ECP recently and conveyed to the State Bank of Pakistan which had notified all scheduled banks across the country to volunteer their employees for training of their job on July 25. The process had already started in Sindh, he said, adding that the bankers would be trained within the shortest possible time. He said the decision had been taken because of shortage of staff for election duties.

“It’s first time in the electoral history of Pakistan that bankers are asked to volunteer their services for polling day. The provincial election commissions (PECs) have been asked to coordinate with the State Bank to get the services of required bankers associated with all scheduled banks to meet the shortage of election staff. More than 20 scheduled — both government and private — banks are operating in Pakistan,” the official said.

For the July 25 elections, the ECP estimates that a total 735,000 polling staff are required for the gigantic exercise and an active coordination is under way to fill the gap. The polling staff comprises officers of various departments working in BPS-16 to 21. Their names have been sent to the PECs for scrutiny by the district election commissions.

The ECP said that only officers with good reputation who had no affiliation with any political party were considered for appointment as district returning officers and returning officers and other polling staff. During the scrutiny process, the DECs, RECs (regional election commissions) and PECs had ensured that the officers were computer literate, know how to use smartphones and were below 55 years of age.

A budget of Rs5.73 billion has been estimated for regular and capacity-building activities, while additional Rs1.8bn is assessed to be required to establish a monitoring wing, for maintenance and security of office buildings, refurbishment of office vehicles and purchase of photocopiers, new computers, printers, UPS and scanners for the Result Management System.

In reply to a question about the challenge in deputing banking professionals for election duties as they had never been part of such exercise in the past, the official said the training of polling staff was meant to meet all such challenges.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2018