'The Election Commission has sent us the project proposal, and we will assess and approve it in the next Ecnec meeting,' Mustafa told reporters
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said that the Election Commission’s proposed project to procure electronic voting machines (EVMs) – for use in 100 constituencies during the 11th national polls – will be discussed at the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
“The Election Commission has sent us the project proposal, and we will assess and approve it in the next Ecnec meeting,” he told reporters after Tuesday’s regular Ecnec meeting at the NEC.
The commission had recently sent the project proposal – titled “EVM purchase, preservation, and use for a more transparent election system” and aimed at buying 150,000 EVMs at Tk3,829 crore – to the Planning Ministry.
Kamal said the funding would be disbursed in phases. “I hope the Representation of the People Order (RPO) will be amended and EVMs used during the election, even in an experimental capacity. However, it will be decided by the Election Commission,” he added.
Meanwhile, the majority of political parties, including BNP, have expressed strong opposition against the idea of using EVMs during their dialogues with the commission as well as other occasions.
However, on August 28, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed disclosed their plans to use the machines during the upcoming polls.
That day, Helal had said that the EVMs would be used at the polling centres in 100 constituencies if everything related is in order – including amending of the RPO and an agreement among the parties.
Asked how the Ecnec was considering clearing the project without evaluating the survey or popular opinion, the planning minister on Tuesday said: “There is no need for that. The Election Commission has used EVMs before, and now they are planning to increase the scale of it. We will provide the funds, they will handle the rest.”
A total of 18 projects, at a cost of around Tk17,787 crore, was cleared by the Ecnec during Tuesday’s meeting, which was presided over by committee Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.