Govt links release of ECP funds to holding polls through EVMs

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It is mandatory to use machines in elections after new legislation, says information minister
news desk
islamabad
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that the federal government might not be able to release funds to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) if the next general elections were not held through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
He said this while addressing a press conference following the federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The minister said the federal cabinet members deliberated on the matter and were of the view that the use of EVMs had become mandatory after the parliament approved the electoral reforms bill earlier this month. He also urged the ECP to start preparations for introducing the EVMs in the next general elections.
“If elections are not conducted through the EVMs, there is another opinion that the government will not be able to fund them,” he said, explaining the existing election laws that only gave legitimacy to the polls via the machines. Fawad said Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem was of the view that on prima facie, the government could only give funds to the ECP for elections if it were held through EVMs.
The government had formed a committee in this regard and the law ministry would give its opinion on the matter, Fawad added.
Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz, he said, briefed the cabinet and presented a comprehensive plan on the use of EVMs and the number of machines required across the country for the next elections. Meanwhile as per the sources, the ECP has rejected the government’s pressure for issuing tenders for the purchase of EVMs.
The ECP is an independent institution and will carry out its duties within the constitutional framework and it has already formed three high-level committees for this purpose.

Gas shortage

Commenting on other important issues, the information minister in today’s presser said the government has approved the gas load management plan to efficiently deal with the shortage of essential commodity during the winter season.

Under the gas load management plan, gas supply to the CNG sector will remain suspended from Dec 1 till February 15, 2022, he said. However, Fawad added that the gas supply to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), fertiliser companies and export oriented industries will continue uninterrupted.

He said a five per cent additional gas will be provided to the power plants being operated on the LNG.

The minister said the gas saved from the CNG, cement and Captive Power Plants will be provided to the domestic consumers.

Fawad said the use of electricity is also being encouraged in the winter season and its tariff has been reduced for domestic consumers in order to entice them to shift their appliances such as geysers and heaters to electricity.

The information minister warned that the country’s gas reserves were fast depleting and “we have to evolve an alternative strategy to deal with the situation”.