Rs. 3.5 billion for local polls, heavy cost for training
New mixed system, series of awareness programmes for voters, candidates, polls officers
Local polls in February next year, for the first time under a new mixed electoral system, will cost Rs 3.5 billion, a senior elections official said yesterday.
Additional Commissioner M. M. Mohamed told the Sunday Times the costs would cover programmes to educate voters on the new system. Sixty percent of the members would be elect- ed on first- past- the- post basis and 40 percent through proportional representation.
He said there would also be separate programmes to apprise political parties and candidates.
Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya told the Sunday Times the polls would be held before February 15.
For 2018, the Election Department's budgetary allocation is Rs 5.5 billion. More than half this would be spent for the local polls, Mr. Mohamed said. He said separate training programmes were being planned for those deployed for election work.
The number of registered voters for the February local council elections has increased by around 150,000 since the last election bringing the total number of eligible voters to more than 15.7 mil- lion (15,760,867).
The Gampaha District has the highest number of registered voters -- more than 1.7 million -- followed by the Colombo District with more than 1.6 million, an Elections Department official said.
Political parties can file nominations starting from tomorrow and upto December 21, when the election date will also be announced.