Bangladesh Govt refuses funds to poll body | india | Hindustan Times
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Bangladesh Govt refuses funds to poll body

The poll body and the finance ministry are at loggerheads over the allocation of budget for the task of updating the existing voter list.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 11:42 IST

The Election Commission of Bangladesh, scheduled to begin updating of electoral rolls from Friday, has been refused money by the government, the media reported, speculating that the task, delayed earlier due to the poll body's reluctance to carry it out, may be again derailed.

Finance Minister Saifur Rahman, according to media reports, has declined to allocate funds till he gets an account of how the funds allocated earlier have been spent.

There are allegations of misuse of the allocated fund, the Bangladesh Observer said, adding that Rahman too was being "rigid."

The poll body and the finance ministry are at loggerheads over the allocation of budget for the task of updating the existing voter list, making uncertain a smooth start to the task.

Political analysts said this adds to the controversy involving the commission, Chief Election Commissioner MA Aziz, the government and the political parties that are pressing for the early revision of the voters' list.

Aziz had shown reluctance to the revision of the list, saying this was "not practicable." Criticised in the media, he had hit out at the "vested interests and media intellectuals."

The opposition too has been targeting Aziz and has been demanding his removal, according to The Daily Star.

Not wanting to be seen as tampering with a constitutional body in a volatile "election year," Prime Minister Khaleda Zia shifted a senior, non-controversial official as secretary to the Election Commission.

But this does not seem to have helped iron out differences within the election commission and between the election commission and the government.

The secretary is merely the top executive and, like poll bodies elsewhere in the world, does not have any political or constitutional role.

The official, Abdur Rashid Sarkar, said if anybody creates any obstacle to discharging the commission's constitutional duties, "he will be responsible for the consequences."

The newspaper quoted Aziz as saying that the government was bound to provide the commission with whatever amount of money was needed to discharge its responsibilities, including preparation of a voter list.

Rahman, on his part, said he was duty-bound to see how public money was being spent. "As per rules, we sent our budget proposal to the government, not to any person. The government must allocate the money needed by the Election Commission, no matter whatever the amount," Aziz told reporters.

The field-level election officials said it would be difficult for them to begin the task of door-to-door visit from Friday as the finance minister's refusal has made the situation difficult.