Last year, the commission decided to buy 150,000 EVMs worth Tk3,825 crore before the 11th general election, in three phases
The Election Commission now owes Tk825 crore as it still has been unable to pay the Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) for an advanced order of 82,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Last year, the commission decided to buy 150,000 EVMs worth Tk3,825 crore before the 11th general election, in three phases.
The project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) in September 2018.
However, the Election Commission submitted an order for purchasing 82,000 EVMs for the first phase without any budget allocation planned for the order.
According commission sources, the total cost of the EVMs amount to Tk1,922 crore. However, the Ministry of Finance allocated only Tk1,097 crore, leaving them in a debt of Tk825 crore.
BMTF has already manufactured the 82,000 EVMs.
The election regulator has been asking for the money from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning.
The Planning Ministry claimed that most of the ministries and departments of the government failed to implement a significant part of the Annual Development Program(ADP), money from which would be allocated to public importance projects based on priority.
Then whatever remained would be given to the Election Commission.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said: “The project is worth Tk3,800 crore, however the government could not give us the money for it. So we have requested them to give us the funds unused by various ministries and divisions.”
Brigadier General Saidul Islam, director general of the NID Registration Wing of the Election Commission, said that they were under pressure to pay BMTF.
"BMTF has asked for the money several times now, since the last date of paying the first installment is June this year," he explained.
Saidul added that they had held several meetings regarding the issue. "The Finance Ministry allocated only Tk1,097 crore. We have sent a letter to the ministry asking for rest of the money," he said, hoping that the problem would be solved soon.
“The BMTF is creating pressure for the rest of the payment. They have to pay the people who made the EVMs,” said an Election Commission official, wishing to remain anonymous.
The EVM project
In July 2018, the Election Commission undertook a project worth Tk3,825 crore to purchase 150,000 EVMs within five years. The third and final phase of the project will end in July 2023.
The expenditure of the project in the current fiscal year (FY2018-19) was projected at Tk1,998 crore, Tk850 crore in FY2019-20, Tk854 crore expenditure in FY2020-21, Tk77 crore in FY2021-22, and expenditure of Tk45 crore in FY2022-23.
In the first phase, 82,000 EVMs were bought at the totalcost of Tk1,921 crore.