MONROVIA – Members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) have informed the Plenary of the Liberian Senate that there has been no funding provided by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for election purposes.
By: Henry Karmo [email protected]
During their appearance on Thursday, the NEC Board chair informed Plenary that the Ministry of Finance has provided US$18M for the Biometric Registration which is expected to kick off this month but also said, there is still a deficit of US$3.375 including the US$1.65 used to conduct the Lofa county senatorial by-election.
Said Madam Davidetta Brown Lasanah: “We were informed that some four million was being processed but up to date, there is no funding for the elections process.”
According to the NEC chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, the government of Liberia has also adjusted its US$91 million election budget to US$33 million.
The amount, she added, would be disbursed in phases based on the request to the Ministry of Finance.
The Senators were also informed that the Biometric Registration process is on course and will commence as scheduled. “Biometric registration ensures data security, restrict multiple registration, the NEC is ready to conduct the 2023 elections and can say that with information gathered from our survey, the NEC can address foreseen challenges.”
Last month, many Senators expressed fear that the October General and Presidential Elections may not hold as scheduled. Their fear stemmed from the slow pace of preparations being made by the National Elections Commission.
Majority of the senators are worried that there could be delay in the electoral process due to financial and other constraints, and would like to hear from the commission about challenges it is being faced with.
Recently, the company that has been contracted to conduct the voter’s registration process, which is slated to commence on March 20, claimed that it is unable to pre-finance as required in the bid document.
A key requirement stated in the bid document for the almost US$12 million contract is that the company must demonstrate the ability to pre-finance the process.
The NEC as a result is now being forced to rely on the government to provide US$4.5 million to LAXTON to bring in the biometric materials for the process. Phase one of the voters registration exercise, which targets six counties, is expected to end on April 9.
According to the payment terms stated in the tender document, Section ITB 11.1(h) to be exact, states that 50% should be made available to the winner of the bid after the completion of the voter registration exercise; 25% after the exhibition, and 25% after the elections.
These requirements were the detailed payment terms as indicated by NEC in their tender.
But as LAXTON has claimed that it is unable to pre-finance the biometric voters’ registration exercise, the Chairperson of the NEC is hinting at the process might be further delayed if the government does not provide the funding.
Voter registration centers announced
Meanwhile, the NEC has released lists of Voter Registration Centers, which it says is in keeping with law for the conduct of the 2023 Voter Registration for the first six counties in phase one.
The NEC said it will commence the process of registration on 20 March in six of the 15 counties of Liberia, representing phase one.
The six counties are Gbarpolu, Bomi. Cape Mount, Margibi, Bassa, and Montserrado. Phase one will run from 20 March to 9 of April.
Phase two will run from 21 April to 11 May with the rest of the other nine counties.
The New Elections Law of 1986 of Liberia mandates the NEC in Section 3.2(a), among others, to make the listing of centers public no later than two weeks before the first day of registration.
It also warns registrants in Section 3.1, to register at the Center they ordinarily reside and must vote where they register.
The NEC is therefore encouraging Liberians of voting age to familiarize themselves with the registration Centers near them in preparation for registration.