Rs. 3.5 bil­lion for lo­cal polls, heavy cost for train­ing

New mixed sys­tem, se­ries of aware­ness pro­grammes for vot­ers, can­di­dates, polls of­fi­cers

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Damith Wick­reme­sek­era

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.

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