Liberia: ‘We Will Not use Civil Servants’ Salary to Fund Elections’ – MFDP Tweah

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Samuel Tweah

Monrovia – Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning has expressed doubt about sourcing money to fund the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections, promising that money generated as civil servants’ salary will not be used to fund the electoral process.

Appearing on state radio (ELBC) on Monday, November 4, Minister Samuel Tweah said the Government will not affect its already struggling payroll to fund elections as much as the election is important.

 “We need to find resources; we have balanced the payroll and want to pay regularly. We are not going to affect the payroll because of elections. We will not take civil servant pay to fund elections if that will mean I am no more Minister Finance so be it,” he said.

“We will have elections but that means we will have to find the money to do that. We are working on a lot of ways for money to come in. If some of those monies come in, it will be used to fund elections. Elections funding is a major process. We could rephrase some of the budget line items so the money that should be going to agriculture in the budget will be affected.”

Fifteen senators are expected to go for re-election in 2020 in keeping with Constitution. 

Minister Tweah was careful not to state the amount of money needed for the elections but confirmed it will cost a lot of money.

In 2018, by-elections to replace President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor were delayed because of the lack of funding. 

When the government decided to hold election to fill in the vacancy, funding availability became a major issue.

The Minister of Finance and the chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) were locked in war-of-words over funding for elections.

Minister Tweah, at the time, described the elections as “unnecessary”, terming the estimated budget to conduct the elections “unrealistic”.

But Cllr. Korkoya, at the time, reacted: “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.”