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New voters’ register: Parliament gives EC go-ahead

The Electoral Commission (EC) has been given green light to spend approximately GH¢400 million to replace the voters’ register ahead of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Commission is expected to spend the approved amount on various activities including procurement, recruitment, training, data processing, publicity and allowances.

Parliament approved an amount of over GH¢390 for the EC to compile a new register when it approved the Commission’s 2020 budget of GH¢1.3 billion.

Approximately GH¢161 million is expected to be spent on allowances of registration officials while the procurement of materials is expected to cost over GH¢156 million.

Also READ:  Coalition backs EC’s move on new voters’ register

The registration exercise is expected to run for 50 days spanning between April and May 2020.

Despite opposition to compilation from some political parties and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the EC has insisted the decision to compile a new voters’ register is a financially prudent exercise.

According to the Commission, during the limited registration exercise in 2017, it spent about GH¢488.1 million.

It argued that the 2020 registration is expected to cost GH¢390.3 million, which is much cheaper than the limited registration conducted in 2017.

Sylvia Annor, head of Communications at the EC disclosed that GH¢2 million was used to refurbish old system though the vendor had indicated in its report the need to acquire a new system.

The upgrade of the current obsolete system, she said, would cost the EC more than outright replacement.

“The upgrade may cost us more. So if we make comparative analysis we can see that the Electoral Commission is being prudent with the management of the financial resources.”

“The EC office has an open-door policy so if a group wants to meet the Electoral Commission, our doors are open,” Sylvia Annor added.

Meanwhile the Minority staged a walkout during a special sitting to approve the EC’s budget estimates on Saturday 21st December, 2019.

The boycott follows its demand for the EC to furnish Parliament with documents that justify its request for over GH¢1b for the purposes of compiling a new voters’ register for the 2020 elections.

The opposition to the compilation of a new voters’ register has culminated into an Inter-Party Resistance against the New Register which has vowed to use civil actions to halt the EC’s move.

Incidentally, another group of political parties headed by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has emerged supporting the calls for a new register.

Dubbed Coalition of Political Parties in support of the Electoral Commission (EC), the group at a press conference in Accra on Thursday 9th January, 2020, noted that the EC is justified in its decision to acquire a new Biometric Voter Management Solution (BVMS) and also compile a new register ahead of the impending elections.

“As key stakeholders, we associate ourselves wholly with any electoral reforms or process that seeks to enhance the nation’s electoral system and engender the needed confidence and credibility in our elections,” the Coalition stated.

It, however, urged the EC to continue to engage all stakeholders including those opposed to compilation in an atmosphere of openness and sincerity.

The Commission, the group insisted, should continue to demonstrate it has the wherewithal within the constraint of time to administer the new BVMS and also compile a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 general elections.

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