The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) spent a total of Nu 54.144 million (M) for the two rounds of the third National Assembly (NA) elections held last year.

This does not include expenses for procurement of equipment and expenses incurred as allowances for officials during the election period.

According to the ECB’s report on the state finance and election returns, which was released yesterday, the four political parties that contested the primary round of elections spent Nu 29.884M through state funding.

In the general election, two parties – Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) spent a total of Nu 24.26M.

Most of the money was spent on campaign activities such as hiring of vehicles, payment of daily subsistence allowance (DSA) for candidates and their representatives and for communications.

A total amount of Nu 28.2M was transferred to the Election Campaign Bank Accounts of the four political parties for the primaries. For the general elections, a total amount of Nu 14.1M was similarly disbursed to 94 Candidates of the DNT and DPT.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) were eliminated from the primary, which was held on September 15. The general election was held on October 18.

According to the report, the ECB found that the expenditures were generally in line with the permissible activities. The ECB observed some inconsistencies in few election returns and necessary follow-up was carried out.

There were no unspent funds returned by any of the political parties during the primary round. Besides the state funding, the parties incurred expenditures paid from the party’s own funds which were within the permissible activities and limits, according to the report.

During the general election, 55 candidates returned a total of Nu 124,407 to the election commission as unspent funds.

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) completed the audit of the election returns of the National Assembly elections on January 9. The audit found that 28 candidates had incurred inadmissible expenditures particularly on account of DSA and hiring payments.

The audit also observed non-deduction of TDS (Tax deducted at source) by BKP and DPT. The ECB’s public election fund division has recovered all amounts and deposited into Audit Recoveries Account.

Each candidate was provided Nu 150,000 as campaign fund.

In the third National Council election, the ECB spent a total of Nu 28.55 million (M) on the candidates.

MB Subba