Polls date announcement this week | Daily News


Polls date announcement this week

WHO gives amber light for elections
15,000 health workers for polling stations
Mock polls to be held in all districts

The new date for the General Election will be announced within this week and the Gazette notification containing the preferential vote numbers will be out today, National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.

Speaking at a press conference following the Commission meeting yesterday, Deshapriya said the Commission members agreed to request Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe to gazette the health guidelines prepared for election campaigning as Regulations.

“We also held a meeting with World health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Dr Razia Pendse. The WHO gave us the ‘amber light’. That is to say that the Election can be held while taking the necessary precautions,” he said.

Deshapriya pointed out the Election cost which was previously estimated at 7 billion could soar to about Rs 9 billion due to the additional measures required in the wake of COVID-19 situation, adding that the NEC officials would meet Finance Ministry Secretary S R Attygalle and Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera to discuss the Election budget.

“About 15,000 officers from the health sector will have to be deployed this time. The cost for procuring face masks, sanitizers etc has also to be added. More vehicles have to be used. About 40-45 percent of the Election cost is for the allowances given to the public servants and other staff for food and work. We may also have to construct temporary shelters for election work,” he explained.

Deshapriya said mock polls covering all the districts would be held in the coming weekend.

He said the NEC would have separate meetings with political parties this week and discuss these matters while circulating the health guidelines for the Election among them.

“The biggest issue we have faced is that there can be a risky situation if people gather in large crowds at election campaigns. We urge political parties to avoid such situations,” he added. 

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