EC permits budget between polls

April 25, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, Prithvi Man Shrestha, 25th April 2017, Kathmandu

The Election Commission made it clear on Monday that it would not stand in the way of the government presenting the budget for the next fiscal year between the first and second phases of the upcoming local level elections.

The constitution requires the fiscal budget to be presented in Parliament on Jestha 15 (May 29), which falls between the polling dates of May 14 and June 14.

The main opposition CPN-UML has strongly objected to the plan to conduct the second phase of election after the budget is presented, which it believes could influence the vote. But Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said during a press meet on Monday that the election authority has advised the government to present the budget at the end of June, after the elections are over, by amending the constitution.

Even if the government presents the budget on May 29, the EC would not stop it because it is the constitutional requirement, said Yadav. “But the government must consult with the EC prior to introducing any populist programme in the budget as it could influence the vote.”

The government is also learnt to have initiated a discussion on amending the constitution for presenting the budget after the second phase of elections. The issue figured during the meeting between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, leaders of the Madhes-based parties and election officials, according to the PM’s secretariat.

‘No Vote symbol for RJP’

The Election Commission made it clear that it would be unable to provide the Rastriya Janata Party, which was formed after a merger between six Madhes-based parties, with a new election symbol as it would require printing of ballot papers over again.

The RJP has chosen “umbrella” as its election symbol. CEC Yadav said no changes in the vote symbol were possible as the ballot papers have already been printed. The RJP has not been registered with the EC.

CEC Yadav suggested that the new party contest the poll with the symbols its constitutions have got. The Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, the Sadbhawana Party, the Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party, the Rastriya Madhes Samajbadi Party, the Nepal Sadbhawana Party and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Ganatantrik merged on Thursday to announce the RJP.

Counting right after first-phase polling

The EC said the counting of votes would begin right after the first phase of local election is over. “We are not in a position to hold the election results for a month,” Chief Election Commissioner Yadav said, citing security and logistical problems.

Election schedule revised

The Elec-tion Commission has revised the poll schedule for the first phase and scheduled the second phase of elections.

The first round of polls will take place on May 14 in the local units of 34 districts in provinces 3, 4 and 6. The second phase vote will be held on June 14 in the local units under states 1, 2, 5 and 7. The EC has deferred the April 29 candidate nomination date till May 2. The vote symbols would be assigned to the parties and candidates on May 5.

CEC Yadav said the election timetable was revised as requested by the government for taking the Madhes-based parties on board the local elections. An agreement to reschedule the polls was reached during a meeting between PM Dahal, leaders of the Madhes-based parties and EC officials on Monday morning. (PR)

Major EC decisions

-     No fresh voter listing

-     21,000 volunteers mobilised for educate voters in local languages

-     Regional administrator, CEO and District Election Offices to monitor code of conduct violation

-     41,666 monitors of 41 institutions permitted