NEC Needs Another US$12.5M

 

Conducting a national election, even for a relatively small country like Sierra Leone with just a little over 3 million registered voters for the 7th March, 2018 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections, is not cheap.

The government of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is however reported remaining firmly committed to ensuring that the national elections in March next year are conducted “freely, fairly, transparently and credibly.”

Accordingly to report, the government has reiterated its commitment to providing the National Electoral Commission (NEC) with the necessary funding to ensure the electioneering process goes on with no financial constraint.

Last week, the report went on, the President summoned the leadership of NEC at State House to get an update of the commission’s activities in order to be abreast of the challenges it is facing in the run-up to next year’s national elections, adding that the President summoned the meeting in furtherance of government’s commitment to holding the elections without any delay.

It could be recalled that for the period January to June, NEC reportedly sent a budget estimate of Le72 billion to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) in preparation for the national elections. Le53 billion was reported to have been disbursed and was expended on nationwide voter registration process with a balance of Le19 billion still to be received from MoFED.

The NEC Outreach Officer, Albert Massaquoi disclosed that the balance money would be expended on outstanding bills related to the registration process including payment of contractors and other service providers during the process.

For the period July to December, NEC reportedly sent another budget estimate of US$10 million to the Ministry of Finance.  Albert Massaquoi said the money will go to logistics support.

Meanwhile, two principal elections donor partners, the United States National Democratic Council (NDC) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are reported to have chipped in US$7.9 million. Their contributions, Albert Massaquoi said, will go towards the preparation of voter identification cards, ballot papers, tallying of results and their announcement.

Many people have however expressed skepticism over the possibility of NEC holding next year’s national elections as scheduled on the grounds that the commission is reportedly broke.