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Pakistan

Shibli Faraz rejects reports of high EVM cost

  • Science minister says cost of manufacturing is anywhere between Rs60-62 billion
16 Jan, 2022

Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz on Sunday rejected speculations regarding the manufacturing cost of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be used in the general elections.

In an interview with Associated Press Pakistan (APP) – a state-run news agency – the minister said that the opposition was spreading misinformation about the cost for EVMs to make the general elections 2023 controversial.

He maintained that the manufacturing of EVMs in the country will cost around Rs60 to 62 billion, adding that reports about the total cost of EVMs from Rs300 billion to 400 billion are baseless.

He noted that the EVMs could also be used in other elections like Local Government and Bar Councils.

“Around Rs27 billion were spent on the general elections in 2018, which were conducted manually,” the minister said.

PMU for EVMs, i-voting: CEC approaches PM for space allocation

Recent reports on the cost of EVMs are based on the proposals submitted by the three committees that the electoral body had formed regarding the EVMs and i-voting.

During a meeting on January 14, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the ECP committees had proposed that Rs258 billion will be required for the procurement of EVMs.

The ECP, on November 23, 2021, announced to have formed three committees led by its top officials over EVMs and i-voting.

According to the electoral body, the Technical Committee comprises of secretary ECP dealing with the scope of the EVMs and i-voting.

The Financial Committee is led by Additional Secretary (Admin) Manzoor Akhtar Malik that deals with finances regarding EVMs and i-voting.

The Legal Committee is led by ECP Director General (Law) Muhammad Arshad regarding the implementation of laws on the EVMs and i-voting, and the problems being faced in this regard.

The move came less than a week after the federal government got the Elections Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021 passed by the joint session of the parliament on November 17, 2021. This legislation grants the voting right to overseas Pakistanis besides providing for the introduction of the EVMs in the general elections.

The move was widely lauded by overseas Pakistanis. However, just a day after the passage of the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 by the parliament, the secretary ECP, on November 18, said that the electoral body was ‘unsure’ whether or not the 2023 general elections would be held on the EVMs.

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