ECB report shows Nu 426 mn spent in the 2013 polls

A report released by the ECB titled “Report on Expenditures of the Second Parliamentary Elections in the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2013” showed that Nu 426.871 mn was spent on the 2013 Parliamentary elections.

The Second Parliamentary Elections in 2013, inclusive of the Bye-Election to Nanong-Shumar National Assembly Demkhong had a reserve budgetary provision of Nu. 500 million. Out of Nu 432.12 million released, an amount of Nu 426.87 million was incurred as the actual expenditure.

More than Nu 60 million was spent towards the State Financing of election campaigns and cost of sponsored election campaigns of candidates of the National Council and National Assembly elections.

In the case of NC candidates it came to a total of Nu 14.06 mn an average of Nu. 209,872 per candidate with a total of 67 candidates.

The campaign financing and sponsored election campaigns of the Parties and Candidates cost an average of Nu 6.29 mn per Party per Constituency for the Primary Round; and Nu. 222,535 per candidate for General Elections. The total expenditure for the NA elections in this was around Nu 46 mn.

An additional Nu 394,382 was incurred for the Bye-Election campaign in Nanong-Shumar Demkhong.

For the entire Second Parliamentary Elections, taking the total cumulative number of Registered Voters of 1,143,679 a sum of Nu 370 (US $ 5.98) per Registered Voter was spent.

A major chunk of the 2013 election expenditure went in travel and general services which came to a total of Nu 196 mn.

This is followed by the Security costs which comes to a sizeable Nu 65 mn for the elections Nu 62 mn was spent for Election campaign activities.

Other smaller budget heads are Nu 29 mn for election materials and stationery and Nu 11 mn for voter and civic education.

There is also supplementary budget of Nu 44 mn in 2013-2014 financial year.

The Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said, “The Conduct of Election is universally accepted to be neither easy nor cheap but due to exercise of prudence and propriety in managing financial and material resources, the Per Unit Cost has come down considerably.”

The ECB spent Nu 73 mn less than the budgeted Nu 500 mn amount partly due to the Nu 31.5 mn in expenses borne by the Australian Electoral Commission for voter education, Nu 2.5 mn from the Swiss Development Cooperation and Nu 1.39 from the UNDP.

The ECB said that the EVM’s gifted by the Government of India in 2008 also helped avoid unnecessary costs.

The non participation of the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) due to which the ECB did not have to disburse Nu 130,000 per constituency also helped lessen the expenditure.

Parties and candidates also refunded unspent state funds of Nu 1.2 mn.

The ECB whose budget had come for some criticism from the former government in its report says, “It is an accepted matter of reality across democracies that poorly conducted elections are costly but good ones are also not cheap.” The Commission said that it kept in mind the three principles of economy, effectiveness and efficiency.

Dasho Kunzang pointed out that that to ensure the election accounts were managed effectively and efficiently the ECB came up with a document titled ‘Guideline for Maintenance of Financial Records and Accounts for an Election in the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2013,’ calling for dedicated accounting system to ensure that accounts are submitted within a given timeframe.

During the Primary round the four competing parties spent Nu 622,800 from their own party fund for campaigning. Of this DPT spent Nu 46,086, PDP spent Nu 162,143, DNT spent 252,946 and DCT spent Nu 161,625.

However, the actual audited accounts and detailed overall expenditures of the four political parties will be made available through audit reports issued to the parties.

Comparatively the 2008 mock elections cost Nu 476.206 mn while the actual 2008 elections cost Nu 340.047 mn.

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