EC says increase of RM15 million from 2006 polls budget attributed to inflation
KUCHING: This year’s state election is to cost taxpayers a sum of RM45 million.
The money is to be used for deployment of 24 helicopters, 4,124 four-wheel drive vehicles, 919 boats, 63 speed boats and 21,000 staff.
This is an increase of RM15 million from the previous election in 2006, disclosed Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof in a press conference at a hotel here yesterday. He pointed to inflation as the culprit for the state election budget to balloon.
“Five years ago, ‘nasi lemak’ would cost RM1 but now RM1.50 … the cost of drinks also increased, not to mention other items such as tents, helicopters, boats, etc,” he said, adding the budget has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance some time ago.
He said EC decided to submit its budget early to enable the ministry to thoroughly check the details so that when the state government eventually announces the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly, the commission would be all geared up for the election.
This is because EC did not want to be caught by surprise, he said, as it is not easy to hold an election in Sarawak due to its size which involves 2,561 streams and 1,740 voting centres.
“Therefore, we do an early preparation and we even send our budget early to the Ministry of Finance,” he said, adding that EC is 65 per cent prepared and is now in the midst of preparing equipment for the election.
Aziz, however, admitted that the election commission has yet to finish its training programme for all returning officers (ROs) and assistant returning officers (AROs).
“I have met with 32 returning officers and 68 assistant returning officers from N1 Opar until N32 Bukit Saban.
“Later we will have another three similar meetings because in total our returning officers are 71 while our assistant returning officers are 159,” said the chairman, who had earlier given a briefing on election matters to ROs and ARO in the hotel.
The chairman said during the meetings, the officers and assistant officers would be briefed on many matters related to the election.
“Some of them have experience and some to do not … that is why we hold briefings for them as well as giving them trainings until late afternoon,” he said, adding the state EC plans to continue giving trainings to its ROs and AROs after the date of the election has been announced by the state government.
Aziz also disclosed that EC alone cannot handle the election without any assistance from government department or agencies.
He pointed out that the commission is just like a small organisation that “depends a lot on support and assistance from other departments such as district offices, municipal councils, local councils, government departments and also those from the private sector.”
Also present during the press conference was state EC director Takun Sunggah.