No budget for voter education

As the commission’s proposal was not within the budgetary ceiling
Election: The election commission’s proposal for a separate budget to carry out voter education programme was turned down and not included in the annual budget.
“Proposal for Nu 12M million to carry out voter information communication and education programme is not recommended as the proposal was not within the budgetary ceiling,” the national budget report 2015-16 states.
However, chief election commissioner (CEC) Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said that budget for voter education programmes are guaranteed by law. “By law, the government has to give the budget,” he said.
As of now, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said the commission in solidarity with the government has explored donor financing for voter education programmes. “However, should it become necessary to seek state support, we have no worry as we will receive funds from the state,” he said.
The election commission is planning to carry out two rounds of voter education programmes for the thromde elections after the delimitation exercise completes. The first round of voter education programme will be general, where voters will be educated on general election rules and voters’ rights.
The second round will be specific where voters will be briefed on the election dates and candidates.
In total, the government has kept aside Nu 95.9M as the 2015-16 budget for the election commission.
Further, the commission’s proposal of Nu 14.5M for replacement of vehicles was also not accepted citing budget ceiling.
“We hope the government will give due consideration as the vehicles were procured in early 2006, and they require to be replaced with new ones,” Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said. The commission though is yet to get a copy of the budget.
Major activities of the election commission for the financial year include the ongoing construction of its office at Kawajangsa, Thimphu costing Nu 42M and furnishing of the new office and site development works worth Nu 10M.
Meanwhile, public hearings on the draft delimitation plan for dzongkhag thromdes began yesterday in Gasa, Dagana, Paro and Trongsa dzongkhags. Mongar and Trashiyangtse will hold their public hearings today.
Public hearings for Bumthang, Haa, Wangduephodrang and Tsirang will be held on July 8, Lhuentse and Trashigang on July 9 and Punakha,  Samtse and Zhemgang on July 10.
According to the delimitation of demkhongs rules and regulations, 2012, the public hearings will provide an opportunity for the people to share their objections and suggestions before the finalisation of the thromde demkhongs in all 15 dzongkhag thromdes that the parliament recently approved.
The exercise, however, will not be carried out for the already established dzongkhag thromdes of Gelegphu, Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar and Thimphu since the delimitation of demkhongs of these thromdes was already done in 2010.
The Delimitation Commission will be meeting on July 13 to review and consider the feedbacks before finalising and issuing the final delimitation order on July 15.
By MB Subba

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