With parliamentary elections due to be held on March 22, Elections Commission (EC) member Ali Mohamed Manik has stated that the commission’s budget does not currently have sufficient funds to hold an election.
Manik stated that, while an estimated MVR38 million is needed for the parliamentary elections, the commission’s budget has a remainder of MVR9 million after the salaries of staff and allowances for political parties are subtracted from the total value.
“Currently, even the unpaid bills amount to more than MVR9 million,” Manik told local media on Thursday.
“The Finance Ministry is saying that there is money in the budget because they are considering the money put aside for salaries and political party allowances,” Manik explained.
“In that manner, yes, there might be MR30 million. But the fact is that that money is reserved for a particular purpose.”
Manik stated that the commission is facing numerous difficulties because of the budget insufficiency.
“Even now, we are having to send some staff to election trainings without their food allowances. This would affect staff motivation, and in turn affect the work of the commission.”
“We have also been unable to pay some staff who worked in the local council elections. There are also numerous bills from that election which still remain unsettled,” Manik revealed.
He assured, however, that all preparations were continuing to be made for the upcoming parliamentary elections despite the budget difficulties.
The EC informed the Majlis government oversight committee on March 3 of the failure on the part of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to provide the allocated budget for the election in full to the committee.
The ministry subsequently responded to the committee via letter – stating that the funds had not been released as the commission already has unspent money in its budget.
Concerns over the ability of the commission to fulfill its mandate independently has been voiced both in the Maldives and abroad in recent weeks as the Supreme Court continues with contempt of court proceedings against all four EC members.
After telling the oversight committee that he no longer considered the EC to be an independent institution earlier this week, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek and his colleagues were summoned to the court and reprimanded once again for questioning the court and its rulings.
Shortly after yesterday’s session, the court imposed a travel ban on all four members of the commission.