THE poll body was able to save more than P200 million in the cost of printing the ballots to be used for the 2010 elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo said they were able to convince the National Printing Office (NPO) to give them the lowest price of P2.50 from the P7.20 cost of printing.

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“It (the cost) went down from P7.20 to P2.50 per ballot... we were able to haggle it down,” Melo told reporters.

In the last May 2007 polls, the Comelec paid NPO around P337.5 million for printing 45 million ballots.

But for the coming political exercise in May, the commission will be paying more than P123 million for the estimated 49.3 million registered voters or a reduction of P214 million from the previous elections.

Section 184 of the Omnibus Election Code states that only the NPO and the Central Bank of the Philippines could print the official ballots to be used every election in the country under the supervision of the Comelec.

Melo said his “haggling” skill was the main reason why the poll body is able to reduce their printing expenditures.

The Comelec chief also said that they target to print the ballots before the end of this month or January 25.

Unlike the previous elections, Melo said the commission will not be printing any excess ballots since they set the ballot ratio at 1 is to 1 despite the extended voters registration held last December.

“Ballots will be on a 1:1 basis as indicated by the number of registered voters,” he said.

Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said NPO will be providing services for the printing venue, manpower as well as other logistical needs in producing the ballots. (MSN/Sunnex)