The Election Commission is in a dilemma over the delay on the part of the Health Services Director General issuing a gazette notification required to make preparations for next month’s parliamentary elections.
This comes hot on the heels of Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) complaining the lack of legal backing for their work.
A senior EC official said they were unable to go ahead with the procurement of items including face-masks, sanitisers and related equipment needed to conduct the poll under COVID-19 health precautions.
“Until the health authorities gazette the recommendations, we cannot go ahead with the required purchases on our own,” the official said.
He said one of the issues they were facing was that they needed time to call for tenders and follow procurement procedures and might run short of time if the gazette notification was delayed.
He said the gazette notification was essential for the conduct of the poll as some of the arrangements due to be taken required a legal backing. “Social distancing, the use of sanitisers and wearing of face-masks should all be gazetted and if not can be challenged and could leave the officials helpless.”
Initially, the gazette notification was due to be issued two weeks ago.
An Attorney General’s Department spokesperson said that clearance for the issue of the gazette notification had been given to the heath sector.
The Sunday Times learns that the delay in issuing the gazette notification was over a dispute about giving powers to health sector workers including Public Health Inspectors. The Commission has already urged the Health Services Director General to at least issue a gazette notification with the powers needed to make arrangements for the polls.
A senior Health Ministry official said that an issue over gazetting powers to health workers was causing the delay and the matter was yet to be resolved.