Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, has disclosed that it will cost the Government of Liberia US$60 million to conduct free, safe, and transparent elections in 2017.
He said the Liberian economy is under severe constraint as the result of the 70 million budget shortfall, which makes the Government unable to provide such huge money to the National Elections Commission to conduct the upcoming general and presidential elections next year.
Minister Konneh made the disclosure Monday, February 8, 2016 at the signing ceremony of US$64 million electricity agreements between the European Union and the Government of Liberia for the Monrovia Consolidation of Electricity Transmission and Distribution.
The main objective of the agreement is a system expansion and connection of 58,000 new customers, including over 350,000 households. He said support for UNMIL drawdown is also important as Liberia is just 18 months away from elections, saying “So we are glad that the EU has started to support; we ask other partners to follow the foot step of EU, because Liberia is a fragile state, and its fragility was exhibited lately by Ebola and now economic downturn; we are not diversify as domestically as we should be, but we are on the right track two years from now, we will able to stand the shocks.
He said the National Elections Commission has already submitted the electoral budget, and government will work through partners like the European Commission to organize election basket funds.
For his part, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, says the EU has been supportive to justice and security sector in Liberia through previous budgetary support and Law reforms, among others.
He said government’s plan is not just to take over from UNMIL but to respond to all of the security problems in the country, adding “We can support all of the agencies but once the people are not secure, every initiative will be falling on the grounds.”
He thanked the EU for the support which he noted, is a clear indication it is aware of challenges faced by the country. He said government’s primary goal is to create an enabling environment for people to feel safe for the 2017 elections.
Minister Sannoh recalled that in Grand Bassa County fire engulfed the sub-head office of the National Elections Commission or NEC on Sunday afternoon, destroying a 20ft. container containing electoral materials. The NEC is yet to give the cost of damages done to its sub-head office, which comes as the electoral body steps up preparations for the upcoming 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections. By Lewis S. Teh-Edited by Jonathan Browne