Conducting the 2014 Special Senatorial Election remains in ‘limbo’ as government struggles to secure a loan agreement for the process.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has advised that it needs US$10.3 million to effectively carryout the electoral process scheduled for October of this year.
Based on the information from the electoral body, the Liberian Senate discussed, agreed and communicated with the House of Representatives to make an amendment to the Budget Act of 2013/2014 in order to allow the Executive to borrow US$10.3 million for the election.
In a letter addressed to the House under the signature of the Secretary of the Senate, Nanborlor F. Singbeh, Sr., the Senate craved that the House endorses the Engrossed Bill No: 20 entitled: “A Bill for an Act to Amend Section 1 of the Budget Act of 2013/2014 Fiscal Year, adding thereto US$10.3 million and authorizing Liberia to secure a loan for the financing of electoral activities of the 2014 Senatorial Election.”
By the Senate’s estimation, national government has a serious budget deficit, which has crippled the expenditure component of the budget thereby declaring the government unable to finance many of its critical programs.
Mixed reactions greeted the Senate’s amendment with others, signaling that the Senate’s position was contrary to provisions of the 1986 Constitution.
Few lawmakers, including Grand Bassa County Representative J. Baron Browne, argued that the Senate request strongly violated Article 34 of the Constitution; which, among other things, says that “all financial tractions shall emanate from the House of Representatives,” and as such, the request from their colleagues should be turned down.
After several deliberations on the subject, the House Plenary voted and agreed to transmit the financial document to the House’s Committees on Elections and Inaugurations, Judiciary and Ways, Means and Finance to advise plenary.
Judging from what is being discussed on Capitol Hill, an electoral observer said; “If the loan is not secured in time, the Unity Party-led administration might be under intense criticism because of the nature of the election.”
Concerning the importance of this election to the young democracy of Liberia, our analyst maintained, “Anything leading to postponement of the process would result in unwanted political tension.”
Where government intends to get the US$10.3 million loan remains unclear, but the urgency is one aspect being pushed by senators on Capitol Hill.