With just six months to the general elections, the country’s Electoral Commission (EC) has still not received the full complement of its budgetary allocation needed to conduct the polls. The Chairman of the Special Budget Committee and Majority Leader in Parliament, Alban Bagbin, confirmed this in an interview with Citi News.
With a packed calendar for the Commission, there are fears the situation could complicate their efforts to deliver a credible election. In 2015, the EC requested for about GHc 1.5 billion to conduct the entire election process, but government slashed the amount to 1.2 billion cedis. Even with that, government through the Finance Ministry finally allocated just GHc 826 million to the EC. Sources close to the Commission however say the money has not yet been released.
According to Alban Bagbin, “we [Parliament] are able to reduce it to 1.2 which the Electoral Commission itself has accepted. The government made available in the budget over 800 million for the Electoral Commission and we are anticipating a supplementary budget which will be coming soon to the House to make up the gap between the over 800 million and the 1.2 million.
But so far the release to the commission is still not proactive.” Over the past months, some civil society groups have suggested that the EC is not prepared to conduct the election.
Meanwhile some civil society organisations are putting pressure on government to change its approach to dealing with budgetary allocations to the EC especially in election years. Political Scientist and Senior Research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Kwesi Jonah, expressed these concerns in an interview with Citi News.
“If they were far behind the first quarter, it means there are arrears for the first quarter that you have to pay. So if it happens that even the second quarter the tranche to be paid also falls short, it will affect the election. They will not be able to do everything that they want to do before the election.
And I think that the time has come for government to take a second look at the way in which it disburses money to the EC. They should make it a very top priority. It should not happen that the EC could not do some things,because the monies were not delivered on time,” he added.
EC receives donor funding for election Meanwhile the Electoral Commission and it’s allied agencies such as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), have received financial support from the UK, US and the European Union (EU).