Various speakers have commented that periodic elections have become ever more expensive in Nepal since the election system has not been decentralised and political parties are unlikely to handle election security on their own.

At a programme titled 'Value of Expensive Election in Nepal' organised by Barbara Foundation today in keeping with the upcoming local, provincial and federal elections, they said expensive election in democracy was disappointing.

The speakers suggested that election expenses could be slashed if political parties were to carry out all works, excluding technical activities of voting centres by engaging voters.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel said economic spending on election management, security and publicity were high, and the volume of electoral expenditure would not be reduced until a decentralised election system was adopted. Pokharel further said election related spending by candidates and political parties had also gone up, besides government expenditure on elections.

"It is obvious that election becomes exorbitant when candidates are in a position to buy tickets and votes", he said, arguing that the tendency of winning election by hook or crook was a big challenge as far as lowering election expenses was concerned.

Another former Election Commissioner Nilakantha Uprety said electoral expenses would not decrease until electoral procedure, technology, system and process were changed. Huge election costs would be lowered if electronic election system was adopted, Uprety said, asking political parties carry out monitoring to this effect. He stressed the need to monitor election spending data of political parties and candidates.

Likewise, former election commissioner Ila Sharma said almost 80 per cent of the amount the EC receives from the government was channelised at the local level. However, she admitted that the EC office-bearers, employees and other involved in the election commission were receiving some incentive allowances. "There is need to incentivise those engaged round-the-clock in conducting the election. Without incentivising, it would tough to conduct the electoral process in a smooth manner", she noted.

Former vice-chancellor of the Tribhuvan University Kedarbhakta Mathema pitched for the need of economised election system saying the growing election expenses had created such a situation that those interested could not fight election. Winning election through money power has pushed people to deeper frustration and the situation will ultimately undermine the spirit of democracy, Mathema added.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 29, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.