NEC Needs US$57M for 2017 Elections

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The National Elections Commission (NEC) has presented to the Liberian Senate the revised budget for the 2017 Presidential and General Elections – in the amount of US$57,197,661.24 – for that body’s consideration and approval.

According to the letter dated February 9, 2016, NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya informed the lawmakers that the budget covers the cost of electronic voters’ enrollment (voters’ registration).

“The budget also covers the cost to add 300 new voting precincts to the existing 1,780,” which he said is intended to help minimize the distances voters have to travel to cast their votes during elections.

Unlike the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system, the NEC boss said, the Electronic Enrollment System (EES) that the NEC intends to introduce entails the issuing of sophisticated bar-coded voters’ registration cards aimed at eliminating names of dead persons from the voters’ roll, preventing multiple registrations and vote casting.

“Moreover,” Chairman Korkoya noted, “the EES recognizes the propriety of value for money.” Korkoya, however, noted that even though the intended system is sophisticated and more effective than the OMR system that has been previously in use, “it is cheaper in terms of cost by a little over US$20 million as shown by the OMR budget submitted to your office in a communication dated July 13, 2015 for the conduct of the 2017 electoral process.”

Following intensive consultations, review and assessment, Korkoya said his Commission is of the conviction that in view of the “very crucial” nature of the 2017 Presidential and General Elections, an upgraded version of the OMR electoral system is necessary.

“Therefore, we respectfully request that this budget be approved in order for the pending electoral process to be effectively conducted. I have attached a copy of the budget for your further information and action,” he said.

The communication was voted on and sent to the relevant committees responsible for electoral matters to report to plenary in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Senate Pro Temp Armah Jallah yesterday requested the Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor Sengbe, to summon Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh to appear before that body on Tuesday for hearings into a motion for reconsideration recently signed on his behalf.

The motion, signed by Senator G. Alphonso Gaye, prevented Minister Konneh from going to jail for 48 hours after the Senate found him guilty of Contempt of the Legislature.

Insiders in the Senate leadership yesterday hinted to our reporter that Konneh may likely pay a fine in lieu of the jail term.

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