Coronavirus ate local poll budget, claims Wissanu

Coronavirus ate local poll budget, claims Wissanu

Local elections may suffer a further delay with budget earmarked to finance them now shifted to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu said the local administrative organisations have been preparing to organise the polls for six months.

However, the central budget for them has been diverted to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this year, the government announced local elections would be held for local leaders including the Bangkok governor, presidents of provincial administrative organisations and members of tambon administrative organisations, after having been suspended following the May 22, 2014 coup.

Mr Wissanu said on Sunday queries regarding the diversion of the local poll budget must be put to the Interior Ministry which supervises local administrative organisations (LAOs).

He said the expenses involved in holding elections are to be covered by the respective LAOs as well as the Election Commission.

The process dictates that the Interior Ministry will determine if the LAOs were ready for the polls.

After that, the ministry will inform the cabinet which decides where the elections will be held.

The decision will then be conveyed to the EC which will set the dates, according to Mr Wissanu.

He said the LAOs have no budget to pay for poll expenses now and it remains unclear if there is leftover money anywhere in the central fund which could be transferred to the organisations.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is a factor in [whether] the local elections can press ahead at this time," Mr Wissanu said.

Meanwhile, Natcha Boonchai-insawat, spokesman for the opposition Move Forward Party, lambasted the government over the lack of poll budget.

"It goes to show that the government never truly understands people's hardship and their needs," he said.


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