By Morrison O.G. Sayon
With less than a year to the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election in the country it has been disclosed that the National Elections Commission (NEC) is faced with serious budgetary constraints. Report says the Commission has to date not received its allotment in the 2013/14 Fiscal Budget and that the NEC budget has been greatly slashed by the National Legislature. NEC submitted the budget of US$15.3 million for the Legislature’s consideration but the amount was slashed to US$4.3 million.
“We are faced with serious funding situation and there are lots of things to be done in conducting the Special Election throughout the country,” one of the Commissioners said at an acquaintance meeting with the Liberian media.
The Commissioner said the Civic Voters’ Education (CVE) is a key component of any election and as such, in the absence of funding it will be difficult for the Commission to carry out its responsibility. NEC said election is time-bound and any delay caused as a result of funding will be counterproductive to the democratic process in the country.
Some of the Commissioners said though they have not seen the signed budget, but sources hinted the Commission that what is within the budget for NEC is US$4.3 million which is grossly inadequate for the conduct of the Special Election.
The Commission has therefore written President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in lieu of the situation and that the Liberian leader has been cooperating with them to ensure that the budget is augmented for the smooth conduct of the Special Election.
At the same time, the National Elections Commission is appealing to its partners to continue their assistance to the Commission especially in such a critical period when Liberians are going to the polls again to elect their Senators.
Meanwhile, NEC has also clarified that the pending election is not a By-Election as been speculated in many quarters. NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said the October 2014 pending election is a Special Election as enshrined in the Constitution of Liberia.
“This coming election is also a general election that affects every part of the country because the entire country will be involved in the process unlike by-elections where only districts are involved,” Chairman Korkoya told Media Executives at an Acquaintance Meeting in the James Fromayah’s Conference Hall on Monday.
NEC is seeking partnership with the media in carrying out its functions especially the upcoming Special Senatorial Election. Mr. Korkoya is worried over the lack of understanding by some Liberians about the Special Election and therefore, wants the media to play a pivotal role in the process.
“We cannot pay you for all what you have done for the Commission and the Liberian people but we highly appreciate you and continue to count on you in the voters’ education process. You can give us little spaces in your papers or airtimes on your radio and TV stations as part of our partnership,” Chairman Korkoya told Media Executives.