The Elections Commission (EC), on Wednesday, revealed that it lacked the budget to hold the local council elections in line with the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s guidelines, adding that an addition MVR 51 million was required to do so.
EC's member Ismail Habeeb made this statement in the National Advisory Committee, in which relevant authorities discussed the points mentioned in the draft of HPA's policy on holding elections amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
According to EC, the added expenses are needed to cover the cost of the 10-day quarantine which every trainer from the commission is required to undergo, as well as the PCR test they must take before departure.
Noting that the same procedure is not necessary for representatives of state authorities and companies, Habeeb asserted that fairness must be maintained in policy making.
Furthermore, highlighting that Maldives has now received a COVID-19 vaccine shipment from India, he requested that the state administer vaccines to those involved in overseeing the election.
Participants of the meeting also discussed the election date, which was proposed to be either April 3 or 10, 2021. Elections Commission will finalise the election date after another meeting held with the commission's members.
The elections, initially scheduled for April 4, 2020, has been postponed by nearly a year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 4,172 candidates, including independent candidates and those representing political parties, are contesting in the upcoming local council elections. Till date, 71 candidates have withdrawn their candidacies.
In response to the indefinite delay, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified an amendment to Article 231 of the Constitution, extending the terms of incumbent councilors. He also ratified the legislation to delineate the powers of council members who remain in office during the interim period, thus allowing the continued functioning of a decentralised government until such a time the local elections can be held.
After multiple concerns raised by EC, the parliament, on Tuesday, passed an amendment to the "Special Bill for the Local Council Elections 2020" to enable EC to conduct the already delayed polls before the end of the ongoing state of public health emergency.