On January 10, 2014, the NEC announced the suspension of what is considered a ‘major component’ of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election process, citing budgetary constraint as the reason for their decision.
The VRU process should have started on January 13, to run through March 5, 2014; but it was postponed without naming a new date for the exercise.
With only thirteen days after the pronouncement, the Commission somersaulted, setting new dates for the process and maintaining its previous three-day period for the VRU agents at each polling centre, ignoring calls from the public for extension.
Addressing a news conference Thursday in Monrovia, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya noted that following negotiations with relevant government institutions, the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) has granted the Commission a waiver to allow it to award contracts for the hiring of vehicles needed for the deployment of materials and personnel for the update exercise.
“The Commission is pleased to announce that the Voters’ Roll Update Exercise that was postponed will now commence on January 29 and end March 21, 2014,” Chairman Korkoya revealed.
Centres that should have been covered from January 13 to 28, 2014, will now be covered last. In the new schedule, centres in various counties to be covered between January 29, through February 1, were also announced by the Commission.
Cllr. Korkoya disclosed that said arrangement was made possible through an assurance and guarantee commitment from the Finance Ministry, confirming a US$5.6 million budgetary allotment in the National Budget 2013/2014 for the electoral body.
“The Commission apportioned the budget for the election in three phases: The first phase deals with the update and the exhibition of provisional voter roll. The budget for this phase is US$5.6 million.
Phase II is with the Pre-election Day activities. Key activities under this phase include, international procurement of Election Day materials, candidates, nominations, the printing of ballots, amongst other things. US$3.5 million goes to said process in the election.
The third phase is Election Day activities. Key activities under this phase are recruitment and training of temporary staff and deployment of Election Day personnel and materials. The cost is put at US$4.2 million,” Cllr. Korkoya said.
The Commission expectation that US$2.6 million of the allotted US$5.6 million will be used to complete activities under phase one, the NEC boss said, indicating that the remaining US$3 million will form a part of the budget for the next phase.