The Elections Commission (EC) has said that recent financial restrictions in acquiring the election budget will not have any impact on the upcoming parliamentary elections.
In all elections following the cancelled first round of last year’s presidential elections, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury have not released in bulk the total budget required for each election.
The ministry has instead been required to pays bills and release funds for individual requests after having reviewed if the expenditure fits the criteria of the programme.
Following yesterday’s second EC advisory committee meeting in preparations for the March vote, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the commission owed MVR12 million in pending bills after delays at the Finance Ministry.
A ministry official explained to Minivan News that, if the ministry is convinced the money is required for elections, there will not be any restrictions in releasing the funds. Though the decision was made at policy level, he acknowledged that it might have been due to budget shortages.
EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has said that, even with these difficulties, the commission is able to mange the expenditures with cooperation from the ministry.
“We are managing. I can assure that these restrictions will not obstruct the election. It will be carried out as planned,” said Thowfeek.
Fuwad was also of the view that the restrictions could be the result of budget shortage.
“Now we are using the office budget mostly. But the Finance Ministry is releasing funds as we spend,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the parliament’s government accountability committee is planning to question the finance ministry regarding the issue. A committee member confirmed today that a request has been made.
The EC is currently on trial at the Supreme Court on contempt charges. After using newly introduced procedures to both initiate and oversee contempt of court charges against the EC, the court has subsequently deemed privileged Majlis testimony to be admissible in the case.
The commission members have now been asked to attend the Supreme Court this Saturday (March 1) at 1:30pm to sign their statements.