Colombo, Aug 1 (PTI) Sri Lanka's August 5 general election will be held at a cost of 10 billion rupees, becoming the costliest poll in the country's history, according to a media report.

Over 16 million voters are registered for next week's election to form the 225-member Parliament for a 5-year term. The election commission has been struggling to make arrangements for a free and fair poll due to the health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Speaking to Daily Mirror Lanka, Election Chief Mahinda Deshapriya said the entire poll process will cost at least 10 billion rupees, an inflated budget compared to other years mostly due to several health precautions and deployment of additional staff.

"We are trying to limit it. This is the most expensive election in history as we have to deploy additional staff along with face masks, sanitisers and all other health guidelines. We hope we can reduce the cost and keep it at 10 billion rupees," Deshapriya said.

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 2 had dissolved the Parliament, six months ahead of schedule, and called for snap polls on April 25.

However, the election commission in mid-April postponed the election by nearly two months to June 20 due to the coronavirus outbreak in the island nation.

The commission last month informed the apex court that the polls cannot be held on June 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic and the new date was decided following a unanimous decision reached between the members of the commission.

Sri Lanka's coronavirus tally currently stands at 2,815 with 11 deaths. PTI

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