Monrovia – The National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, has described as laughable and troubling statement by the Finance Minister, Mr. Samuel Tweah.
Few days ago, the Minister for Finance and Development Planning, had stated that the pending by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties are unnecessary and estimated budget from the NEC for the conduct of those elections is unrealistic.
Cllr. Korkoya: “The best thing you can do is call the experts in and talk with them, that is what we have done in the past. Where the Commission submitted a budget, previous Ministers of Finance will call the Commission, we sit and justify. We realize that this is public funding and we have to account for it.”
“This is election. We have stakeholders and all these people have roles to play and not for one person to sit and decide."
"This is strange that we have written the Finance Minister and he hasn’t even given us the courtesy of acknowledgement,” the Elections Commission Chairman said.
Korkaya, appearing on a local radio morning program, Monday, March 19, he further disclosed that the pending by-elections stand a risk of constitutional crisis as the Commission has already begun postponing important deadline dates.
“This is constitutional and not discretional; we cannot postpone election dates."
"We are waiting for the government. If the government wants to make funding available fine. If they want to hold election, it is also fine. If they don’t want to, it’s still fine, but we cannot be postponing elections date.”
“We shouldn’t even have these discussions. I think we should do the responsible thing by sitting quietly and see whether we can invite donors and discuss budget items and see if they can help rather than going around and barking all over the place like a German Shepherd.”
The NEC Chairman expressed concern that the Ministry of Finance was not responding to the budget intended to run the two by-elections simultaneously. He further stated that because of the delay from the Ministry, the Commission is in a position of uncertainty.
The Finance Minister made the statement when he addressed journalists at the Ministry of Information press briefing on Friday, March 16.
He indicating that the Ministry of Finance will rigorously scrutinize every budget emanating from all government’s spending entities.
“To spend money on election that is not necessary is like taking away money from John F. Kennedy Hospital,” Minister Tweah said.
“To have US$3.9 million on election is not going to happen”, Minister Tweah added.
He argued that NEC already has trained staffs that are capable of conducting the by-elections, citing the experience they have acquired during the 2017 election.
“So, my budget people have worked and they think that US$1.2 million can hold the elections. Some estimates say US$1.5 million should be (able to hold the elections), but we are going to have a discussion with the National Elections Commission and we are going to say this is the pro-poor election budget,” Finance Minister Tweah stated.