Liberia: Senate Committee on Autonomous Agencies Wants National Elections Adjusts US$91.9 M Budget for 2023 General Elections

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The Senate joint committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies, Ways, Means, Finance and Budget has called for further consultations to properly scrutinize the US$91.9 million budget recently presented to the Legislature by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

The Joint-committee in a hearing on Wednesday told the Board of Commissioners that in the midst of the current economic state of the Country, it is prudent for the Commission to readjust the proposed budget.

According to a statement issued by the Press and Public Affairs section at the Liberian Senate, the committee in its reservations indicated that US$91.9 million seems huge, especially when there are lot of competing priorities.

The committee at the same time urged NEC to do complete breakdown of the proposed budget into stages for Legislative consideration.

The Chairperson of NEC, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah has justified that the budget is realistic due to the introduction of biometric voter registration in the 15 counties which will include costs for logistics, equipment, materials, staff, technical experts, training, civic & voter education and gender mainstreaming amongst others.

Madam Browne-Lansanah further said the Commission intends to establish 14 additional magisterial offices across the Country, adding that this will entail additional cost of infrastructure, equipment and personnel as captured in the budget.

She told the committee members that for the final half of 2021, the Commission will need US$4 million to conduct the pilot project for the Biometric voter registration.

Additionally, the NEC boss noted that the Commission will need a total of US$41,979,273.86 out of its submission to undertake activities which are a prerequisite for organizing the 2023 general elections.

“These activities include BVR, public outreach, Field and Headquarters Operations, as well as all of the project activities indicated in the budget summary” she said.

The NEC, according to Chairperson, has been conducting elections using the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) technology for the registration of voters.

She further told the committee that in order to successfully transition from the existing OMR system to the Biometric Voter Registration technology, the entire Data Center and the information Technology Infrastructure of the Commission will require restructuring.

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