The National Elections Commission’s (NEC) decision to spend US$1,909,876.50 of taxpayers’ money to rent vehicles for the upcoming Special Senatorial Election has sparked serious concern on Capitol Hill.
NEC awarded a contract to Effective Logistic Services, a local car rental company, to provide transportation for its Voters’ Roll-Update exercise across the country.
According to reports, the Commission confirmed awarding contract to the local business to provide 200 vehicles for the Voters Roll-Update.
The Commission said the vehicles rented would enhance the electoral process that started with the Voters Roll-Update that runs from January 29 to March 21 after suspending the process once because of “financial constraints.”
Such “big financial spending” angered members of the House of Representatives forcing a decision to summon NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya and his team of commissioners, including the Executive Director, before that august Body on Tuesday, to account for the contract.
The House took the decision Thursday, February 27, in Monrovia, after a complaint was addressed to plenary by the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditure Maryland County Representative James Biney.
Rep. Biney, who usually does not attend sessions until he (Biney) has an issue on the agenda to discuss, said that upon receiving the related information, his committee invited the Commission to a hearing at the Capitol Building but responses from NEC were “unfavourable and disrespectful,” leaving the committee with no alternative but to address plenary, the highest decision-making body of the House.
Interestingly, Biney’s communication did not form part of the House’s agenda but was presented to the secretariat for reading on the floor.
Biney: “The contract was submitted to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC). In the PPCC response of January 15, 2014, it noted the urgency of the request, but advised, “the Commission to bring to your attention that the total contract value of US$1,909,876.50 for the provision of vehicle rental and lease services for voters’ roll-update exercise is costly, considering that a portion of said amount could have been allocated towards the purchase of new vehicles for NEC, which could have been used for subsequent election-related activities.
In addition to the purchase of new vehicles, the NEC could have requested the General Services Agency (GSA) to retrieve operational and other vehicles from the government fleet for use during the voters’ roll update, as was done in January 2013, during the High Level Panel Meeting in Liberia.”
Our Committee through the office of the Chief Clerk requested the vital pieces of information related to the cars to be rented and conditions involved. It is important to note that the Commission is yet to provide these documents as requested.”
However, Chairman Korkoya has defended his entity’s decision, adding; the decision followed negotiations with relevant government institutions, including the PPCC, which granted a waiver to the Commission to allow it to award a contract for the hiring of vehicles needed for the deployment of materials and personnel to conduct the VRU exercise.
The election commissioners are expected to appear along with executives of the PPCC to face plenary at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.