LAHORE - Following the fixation of expenditure limit by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the candidates are in a fix how to keep their expenses within the prescribed limits.

The ECP on Thursday fixed the upper limit of Rs 1.5 million for a candidate contesting National Assembly election and Rs 1 million for a Provincial Assembly candidate.

Contestants belonging to major political parties have termed the decision impracticable. They said that ECP won’t be able to implement its decision as the candidates might be forced to look for illegal options to evade this harsh conditionality.

“The candidates would definitely exceed the limit but would adjust the excess amount showing it under the head of expenses incurred by their supporters”, a National Assembly candidate observed seeking anonymity

PPP candidate from NA-125, Lahore, Navid Ch said that the amount fixed by the ECP was insufficient for a National Assembly candidate who has to touch every nook and corner of his vast constituency.

“Rs 1.5 million is not enough even to meet the expenses to be incurred on candidate’s advertisement involving printing of banners, flags and hoardings etc”, he said, adding, the ECP was forcing the candidates to speak lie about their expenses.  “We are ready to handover this much amount to the ECP which should take care of all our expenses”, Navid suggested.

He feared that planning was being made to get the elected representatives disqualified at a later stage through the handing sword of Articles, 62 and 63.

The PML-N candidate Pervaiz Malik said that he was willing to confine the expenses within the prescribed limit if the Commission had some mechanism to enforce the decision on all contestants. “It is too good to be implemented”, he remarked.

PTI’s central Secretary Information Shafqat Mehmood who is also contesting elections from Lahore, said that it was a good decision in principle but not compatible with the ground realities. It would be difficult for the ECP to enforce the decision, he said, adding, that history was testimony to the fact that ECP had never been able to keep the election expenses within the set limits.

The PPP’s Shaukat Mehmood Basra said that ECP would be making its position awkward when the candidates would not abide by the decision. “Rs 1 million for a candidate contesting on a provincial seat is too meagre an amount not enough even to meet expenses on transport and fuel”, he said, adding, that a decent gathering of some 2,000 people would cost a candidate over Rs.0.5 million.

The Commission should review its decision, he added.