The staggered elections conducted during the past ten years have cost as much as Rs.7 billion of public funds, according to a document tabled in Parliament yesterday.
Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardane tabled this document as part of an answer to a question by the United National Party (UNP) MP Ravi Karunanayake during question time. During that period, two presidential elections, three parliamentary elections, three provincial council elections and three local authority elections were conducted.
For the 2005 presidential election, the authorities concerned had exhausted Rs.745 million; yet, for the 2010 presidential election, a whopping Rs.1.8 billion had been spent. The parliamentary election that followed cost Rs.1.9 billion.
During the period, the government opted to dissolve provincial councils prematurely and to conduct elections on a staggered basis. It appeared to have cost the election authorities dearly. The expenditure incurred for the election to the newly formed Eastern Provincial Council was Rs.147 million. The polls were conducted on May 10, 2008. After that, the government spent Rs.285 million for the election to the North Central and Sabaragumuwa Provincial Councils held on August 23, 2008. The amount spent for the Western Provincial Council election was Rs.404 million and for the Uva Provincial Council Rs.131 million. These elections were conducted separately on April 25, 2009 and on August 8, 2008.
Shortly after the end of the war, the government had the elections to the Jaffna Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council at a cost of Rs.16 million. Also, for the three local authority elections held in 2001, Rs.2.1 billion had been spent.
Besides, Rs.672 million had been spent for the elections to the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragumwa Provincial Councils on September 9, 2012.
Earlier, election monitors, civil society organisations and political parties had decried the high cost involved in conducting staggered elections. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)