ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Senator Syed Shibli Faraz said those who were spreading false information about the total cost of EVMs to be used in the general elections were misleading the people.
“Since the EVMs are not be disposable and can be used in all kinds of elections like local government, bar council and other departments; the cost is justified”,“The media reports about the total cost of EVMs from Rs. 300 billion to Rs.400 billion are totally baseless”, the minister said in an interview with APP.
Faraz said the total cost of Rs. 60 to 62 billion could be incurred on manufacturing of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the `General Elections 2023’ in the country, as per rough estimates.
The minister said around Rs. 27 billion were spent during the last general elections of 2018 which were conducted manually.
He said it was very unfortunate that the Ministry of Science and Technology was neglected in the past due to lacking leadership.
“The Ministry of Science and Technology is considered as the second most important department after the Prime Minister's office in the world while the Deputy Prime Minister in some countries holds the portfolio of the Minister for Science and Technology too”, he observed.
The minister said, "It was the vision of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan that we have to give importance to technology for achieving progress on social and economic fronts".
Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is the clear manifestation of the present government's transition towards technology in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister to make the elections transparent, he said. "EVM symbolizes the paradigm shift towards technology", he added.
The minister said that he was given the first task of evolving an indigenous prototype of EVM soon after assuming charge as Minister for Science and Technology to resolve the longstanding issue of disputed and non-transparent elections.
He said the target of developing the prototype of EVM was given on April 15 which was completed on July 15. "We have developed a prototype in the short span of three months and given flawless demonstrations to the Prime Minister, President, Parliament, Chamber of Commerce, universities and masses", he said.
Now, even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after legislation agreed on conducting local body elections in Islamabad and even in Punjab too through EVM which is the success of Prime Minister, Imran Khan.
The minister pointed out that this would be proved in the local body elections that “conducting elections through EVM is possible”.
The minister was of the view that Pakistan could not afford to rely merely on the textile sector for progress but they have to diversify the economy through innovation. "We have to run a campaign to prepare our engineers, technicians, software and IT engineers and local startups to come up with technology based solutions to resolve the basic issues of the country and masses", he said.