The government has decided not to proceed with the project to 2 lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) at a cost of Tk 87 billion considering the global economic situation.
The Planning Commission has already informed the Election Commission (EC) of the decision to suspend the EVM purchase project, EC Secretary Md Jahangir Alam said on Monday.
The EC secretary said it is possible to arrange voting in 50-60 constituencies using EVMs available with the commission.
The project is not being cancelled altogether, but for the time being, the election watchdog will go ahead with its plan to install EVMs in 50-60 constituencies with the resources that are currently available, he said.
In September last, the EC approved a Tk 87 billion project to purchase 2 lakh EVMs at roughly Tk 3 lakh each ahead of the 12th parliamentary elections slated for early January 2024. The allocation also includes the cost of maintenance of the voting machines and preparing manpower through training for running those.
Bangladesh had to pay Tk 2 lakh for each of the 150,000 EVMs it bought in 2018. The EC currently has around 1.5 lakh EVMs and with those, they can hold voting in 70-80 seats.
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 EC forwarded the project proposal to the Planning Commission after it decided to hold the next election using EVMs at maximum 150 seats.