EC seeks B1.2bn for local elections

EC seeks B1.2bn for local elections

Doubts linger over budget, poll date

The Election Commission (EC) has requested a budget of up to 1.2 billion baht to finance local elections although it is unclear when they will be held.

EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said yesterday the commission is seeking between 1.1 billion and 1.2 billion baht for the polls. The government will decide how much will be allocated.

Mr Ittiporn expressed confidence the government will approve enough funding for the elections.

The government has so far not given any indication when the elections will be staged and the EC has not set a timeframe for them.

The polls were initially expected to go ahead towards the end of the year. However, they are now likely to be delayed.

The EC is in the middle of drafting five local poll regulations and has calculated the expenses and set aside manpower for poll watch duties.

Mr Ittiporn said a core regulation on poll arrangement procedures will be finalised in a week, with other regulations to follow.

Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee said the government has not discussed a timeline for local elections, while the ministry, which is in charge of laying down the groundwork for the polls, has not fixed a date.

He believed the elections' timing would be made clear after the budget expenditure law for the next fiscal year comes into effect.

If the budget bill reaches parliament in October and passes without a hitch, the national budget would likely operate from January next year, said Mr Niphon.

He said he could not say for certain whether local elections will be held before the year is out.

The Department of Local Administration (DLA) said it was fully prepared for the polls, with lists of eligible voters already compiled by the Department of Provincial Administration and funding for the election groundwork approved by the local administrative organisations.

DLA chief Suthipong Julacharoen said the LAOs have had funds set by in their coffers for two years.

However, Ban Kaewcham, an academic specialising in decentralisation of power, disputes whether the LAOs have sufficient budget to carry out local elections.

The EC has issued 150,000 manuals containing information about the LAOs' authority and role in the local elections as well as details about poll procedure infractions.

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