National Elections Commission Needs US$17.6 Million for Mid-term Senatorial Elections and Referendum

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MONROVIA – The 2020 special senatorial election might be postponed due to the inability of the government to raise adequate funding for the election.

Cllr. Jerome Korkoya chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) told the Liberian Senate on Wednesday that the Commission will need US$17.6 million to conduct the 2020 special senatorial election and the national referendum simultaneously in 2020.

According to Korkoya, when he appeared before the Senate plenary, the US$17.6 million budget is an adjusted budget from the US$24.4 million for elections and US$4.8 million budget previously submitted by the NEC to the Ministry of Finance and Development planning. He also told the Senate that US$14.8 million of the USD$17.6 will be used for elections while US$2.6 million will be used to conduct referendum. 

Korkoya: “In elections, when you reduce the cost you adjust activities; the number of days for the update will reduce from 28 days to at least 7 days and at most 10 days. The period for vehicle rental was reduced. Originally, we needed six polling staff, we reduced that to five. We also reduced the period for hiring of civic and voter educators, we reduced that from four months to one month.

“The quantity for CV materials was reduce significantly, we also significantly reduce the period for monitoring field activities. The government has committed to providing USD$ 7.2 million dollars for preliminary pre-electoral activities.”

Kokorya also told Senators that the NEC has not commenced any procurement activity. According to him, the NEC cannot commence the publication of voter roll update because of the lack of funding and are unable to post important information on the website of the NEC because of the lack of funding.

Cllr. Kokorka also informed members of the Senate that due to the lack of funding, the process leading to voter registration that should have begun weeks ago could not. “Unless we get authority from the PPCC we cannot start any procurement plan and we are almost in 2020 as you are all are aware and by the time we get that it might just be too late.”

Making input, Senator Conmany Wesseh of River Gee County cautioned the NEC to find a way to make election as cheap as possible and not depend on others to fund Liberia’s elections. According to him, even if it will mean printing ballot papers in Liberia, the country should go ahead with that.

Senator Wesseh: “The constitution says we should hold elections, it didn’t say how elections should be held. We should make it as reasonably manageable as possible and not to create conditions for ourselves that we cannot pay for.

“We say we meeting international standard we need to set our own standard that must be seen as free, fair and democratic or we put rope on our own neck and say we setting international standard.”

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