An initiative to expand the use of electronic voting machines to 150 parliamentary constituencies in the next general election has been put on hold due to a fund shortage stemming from the global economic crisis.
The government's Planning Commission informed the Election Commission about its decision to halt plans to buy new EVMs in light of the economic situation, EC Secretary Md Jahangir Alam said on Monday.
The project is not being cancelled altogether, but for the time being, the election watchdog will go ahead with its plans to install EVMs at 70-80 constituencies with the resources that are currently available.
"It has been decided that the EVM project will not to proceed immediately after detailed evaluation and discussions, considering the financial capacity of the government in the current global context," Alam said.
In September 2022, the EC approved a Tk 87 billion project to purchase 200,000 EVMs at roughly Tk 300,000 each ahead of the 12th national elections slated to be held by the end of 2023 or early 2024. Funds would also go into maintenance, developing manpower, and training.
It cost Bangladesh Tk 200,000 for each of the 150,000 EVMs it bought in 2018. With those EVMs, it will be possible to hold voting in 70-80 constituencies.
However, the extra Tk 100,000 added to the budget for each EVM under the latest initiative factored in a rise in the price of the dollar, as most of the parts of these machines would have to be bought from abroad.
The EVMs are assembled in Bangladesh with components imported through Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory.