The acting chairperson of the board of commissioners at the National Elections Commission, Madam Davidetta Lansana, discloses here that the commission lacks funding to conduct the special senatorial election.She says due to the financial difficulty, the NEC has failed to meet up with timetable set for the smooth conduct of the 2020 special senatorial poll.
Speaking before the senate’s special committee on elections, Madam Lansana explains that for the pending senatorial election to be held this year, it would require adequate funding from government or else, it could cause constitutional breach for the country.
But the Chairman of the senate committee, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman asks the commission to explore possibilities for prepayment or pre-finance programs with vendors the NEC had been doing business with to have the senatorial election conducted this year.
Senator Sherman also advises the commission to engage commercial banks for loans and that government would be obligated to repay those loans in the future.
He warns that it is not a good thing for the commission to relax on the basis that there is no money, noting that this is worrisome for the democratic space and it could undermine the constitutional timetable within the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The former chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya had reported earlier that the 2020 midterm senatorial election scheduled for October is in limbo due to lack of funds to support the electoral budget of US$20 million.
Cllr. Korkoya and the NEC board of commissioners explained the US$20 million is for both national referendum and the election, but the budget was reduced to US$17 million.
He said the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning issued a commitment letter to the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) of US$7 million as initial payment for pre-electoral activities, covering voter’s roll and assessment of various precincts, but the NEC has not received a dime.
Meanwhile, the hearing continues Monday, May 25, with the mandatory appearance of officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to explain why the government has not made funding available for the senatorial election.
Senator Sherman underscores that authorities of the Finance Ministry and the Liberia Revenue Authority would have to appear before the senate to explain the perpetual delay in funding the pending senatorial election.Half of the 30 senators on Capitol Hill or 15 of them are expected to participate in the pending poll. Editing by Jonathan Browne