The Election Commission (EC) will need an additional budget of Bt600 million to hold the next general election, in addition to the Bt4 billion it was already allocated, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
He said that the EC would request the additional budget at his suggestion after the agency informed him that the funds allocated earlier were insufficient.
“The EC mentioned that it needed a larger budget. It has enough funds for the selection of senators,” said Wissanu, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs.
The agency had allocated some Bt4 billion for holding the election of MPs but it would have additional expenditures under the new electoral law, EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said on Thursday.
He explained that under the new law, the EC would need to pay rewards to informers on electoral fraud and rent billboards for campaign posters.
The EC would make its formal request for the additional budget to the Cabinet “very soon”, Jarungvith said.
He said the agency had earlier cut down its requested budget from the original amount of over Bt5 billion to Bt4 billion.
“The budget allocated for holding the selection of senators is enough. We don’t ask for more,” he said.
In addition to holding the election of MPs, the agency is also responsible for the selection of 200 senatorial candidates who are individual applicants and nominations by organisations from occupational groups.
The junta – National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – is empowered to choose 50 out of the 200 candidates, to be appointed to the 250-member Senate.
Of the remaining 200 senators, 194 will be appointed by the NCPO and six others are ex-armed forces and police.
Jarungvith said on Thursday he expected the decree on senatorial election to be issued in early November.
Organisations will be allowed to nominate senatorial candidates from October 15 to 24, and applications will be opened for individuals between November 26 and 30, he said.
The selection of senators will be held on December 16 at the district level, on December 22 at the provincial level and on December 27 at the national level, according to Jarungvith.
Applicants and nominees are required to vote among people in their occupational groups and only 200 will be eligible for the final selection by the NCPO.
The EC plans to submit a shortlist of 200 senatorial candidates to the NCPO within January 22, according to election commissioner Thawatchai Terdpaothai.
Jarungvith said the election commissioners have instructed the EC to complete the selection of senators as soon as possible so that they would then focus on holding the general election.
The next election has been tentatively scheduled for February 24.