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NEC trapped

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-As December 8 leaves commission in huge debts

The number of electoral disputes surrounding the December 8, 2020 special senatorial elections is not the only sour grape left behind at the National Elections Commission situated on 9th Street in Monrovia, there are more, this paper has learnt.

The electoral body risks legal actions from vendors and potential demonstrations from poll workers in demand for pay for services rendered and salaries for the December 8, 2020 elections and Constitutional Referendum.

NEC hired several vendors and poll workers ahead of the December 8, polls with hope that they would have delivered on their promises after both vendors and poll workers had performed their services, but it appears with slow funding of the process, the commission is now left walloping in huge debts.

Amongst its vendors are the Ghanaian Bulk Press which printed the ballot papers for the elections and Referendum, local printing presses, the media and poll workers across the country.

Information available to this paper indicates that NEC total debt stock as a result of the conduct of the special senatorial elections, and the by-elections in Montserrado District #9 and Sinoe County District #2 is near the US$4 million mark.

The local media has the lowest amount standing at US$30,000, followed by local printers US$200,000, vehicle rentals US$739,675, Poll Workers US$882, 996 and Bulk Press which is near USD1million.These amounts excludes other service providers that this paper did not captured.

The actual budget summited by NEC for the conduct of the special senatorial elections and the Constitutional Referendum was around US$17 million. That amount was reduced by nearly US$4m. When the Commission was asked to include the two by-elections the amount was increased by US$390,000 bringing the total December 8, 2020 elections and Constitutional Referendum budget to US$13.989m.

“NEC doesn’t have any money to pay you people now,” NEC Chair, Davidetta Browne Lansanah told media managers Tuesday, when she called to inform them that the election house was not reneging on its responsibility but was seeking funding to effect payments to those who rendered services during the election period.

She acknowledged that the vendors including the media and poll workers deserve to be paid for the services rendered but the delay is as a result of the funding process.

“Poll workers, please be a little patient, as soon as we get the funding we will pay you all,” she said.

Mrs. Browne-Lansanah said it was important to inform service providers that NEC acknowledged its indebtedness and as a sign of respect, it was important to call them and let them know that they will get pay as soon as funding is made available to them through the Ministry of Finance Planning and Development.

Meanwhile, the NEC boss told the media owners that she was not certain as to when money owe them will be paid. “We na able to payyorna,” she said in pidgin English.

By Othello B. Garblah

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