The Finance Division on Tuesday said it has released Rs17.4 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the upcoming general elections slated to be held on February 8, 2024.

The amount was in addition to the Rs10bn released in July 2023, the Finance Ministry said, highlighting that the latest disbursement brought the total funds released for polls to Rs27.4bn.

“The Finance Division remains committed to provision of funds as and when required by the Election Commission of Pakistan,” it added.

The development comes a day after the electoral body raised alarm over the delay in the release of the urgently needed amount for the conduct of polls.

Earlier, sources told Dawn that the ECP had asked for Rs51bn for the elections, but later after a series of meetings settled for Rs47bn, out of which Rs5bn had been released during the previous fiscal year. In the budget passed in June, the government had allocated Rs42bn for the elections.

They said the Finance Ministry was repeatedly approached and a written reminder was also sent for an immediate release of funds. However, there was no positive response, compelling the ECP to summon the finance secretary.

Subsequently, the finance secretary had assured the poll watchdog that the funds required by the ECP urgently would be released in a day or two. In a post X (formerly Twitter), caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi had also ruled out any crisis in meeting the ECP’s financial needs.

Last week, the electoral watchdog 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.

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