Parliament on Wednesday approved the sum of GH¢786.9 million for the services of the Electoral Commission (EC) for the year ending 31st December 2024.
The House further requested the Finance Ministry to deal with the shortfall of GH¢140.7 million so that the processes and the conduct of the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections would not be compromised.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, and Chairman of the Special Budget Committee of Parliament, who moved the Motion for the House to approve the Budgetary allocation for the EC, said the additional request of GH¢140.7 million was what the Commission had budgeted for and unfortunately the Finance Ministry could only allocate the GH¢786.9 million to it.
“The Commission insists that without the GH¢140.7 million, it will be difficult to conduct timeously and in a proper way, the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections as slated for December 2024.”
This, the Majority Leader said, was why the Special Budget Committee deemed it appropriate and fit to insist that the Commission be provided with the GH¢140.7 million.
He noted that the EC intended to undertake many activities and procured equipment for the successful conduct of the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
He said significant among these was the procurement of additional BVDs and BVR to enable the Commission to increase the number of polling stations for a smooth poll, recruitment and training of electoral officers, replacement of exited staff, upgrade of Data Centre and the purchase of ICT equipment.
He said the Commission given the critical need for these expenditure items to effectively implement its planned programmes and activities, proposed a Budgetary request of a sum of GH¢932.03 million for the 2024 financial year.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the Committee observed that the Finance Ministry however, had capped the allocation to a total amount of GH¢786.9 million resulting in a budget shortfall of GH¢140.7 million.
“Again, the Commission further informed that the shortfall would compel the Commission to reduce its critical activities necessary for a successful conduct of the 2024 general elections and therefore, appeals to the Committee to intervene to ensure that the proposed budgetary amount is approved and released on time to enable the Commission to undertake these planned programmes as scheduled,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
“The Committee is of the view that the activities of the Electoral Commission are time-bound and extremely critical to the stability of the country and therefore, any impediment in the way of the Commission may be costly to the country.”
Mrs Patricia Appiagyei, Member of the Special Budget Committee/Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurance and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Asokwa, who seconded the Motion, said one of the issues, which the Special Budget Committee was exposed to use the indelible ink, which reared its head during the December 19th, 2023, District Level Elections, that was presented to the voters.
“Mr Speaker, we don’t know whether it is because of the harmattan or any other thing? We also noted, as we have rightly shown concern to the Commissioner or the Chair of the Electoral Commission, that the ink which we have been told that it was produced in Ghana can easily be robbed off.
“We were rightly informed that the ink is never produced in Ghana, and at the same time we were also educated that what they have done is to even get rid of the indelible ink, currently nobody uses the indelible ink, and it was rightly proven yesterday. But we have shown serious concern about the use of that indelible ink.”
Mrs Appiagyei said it was important that the House urges the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the EC was adequately equipped to organise credible elections in 2024.
Mr Kofi Iddie Adams, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Buem, reiterated the need for the EC to maintain the use of indelible ink in marking voters who had exercised their franchise.
Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, Deputy Minority Whip and NDC MP for Banda, urged the House to see to that the Finance timeously releases the budgetary allocations to the EC.
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, the Majority Chief Whip and NPP MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, also underscored the need for the House to work together to ensure that that funds were made adequately available to the electoral body to perform its mandate.