THE Electoral Commission (EC) has given the strongest assurance yet that its resolve to ensure clean and incident-free elections this year will not be impeded by any financial hold backs.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Deputy Chairman of the commission in charge of Finance and Administration, Mr David Kangah, based the assurance on the fact that the commission had not encountered any problems in accessing funds for the conduct of the 2008 elections.
He was reacting to an earlier newspaper publication which claimed that the EC was being compelled to cut down on its budget by 20 per cent, a development which the article suggested could compromise the conduct of the December polls.
Debunking that suggestion, Mr Kangah said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning was working on a request from the EC to access some funds for its operations.
Speaking on the status of the EC’s budget, Mr Kangah added that discussions were going on for finalising its requirements.
He reiterated the constitutional mandate on the government to provide the EC with all its resources and affirmed that the government was “doing exactly that”, adding, however, that in fulfilling that constitutional mandate, the government needed to ensure a “realistic budget” for the EC.
“In fact, we have, ourselves, done some introspection and seen some issues in our budget that escaped our attention and we are attending to it,” he added.
He further pointed out that the government could not refuse to provide the required resources of the EC or force anyone there to change anything.
Mr Kangah also disclosed that the EC was making its ICT systems functional by replacing some ICT equipment and upgrading others.
That, he said, would include a replacement of broken down faxes in all the districts and wireless communication systems.
He said in some instances the more sophisticated wireless telephones with Internet and fax components would be available.
Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev Fred Deegbe, has said the council, in keeping with its role as a partner in the election process, is asking the EC to clearly come out with its resource needs and challenges.
He was reiterating issues raised in a pastoral letter issued on August 16, 2007 that called for openness, dialogue and the commitment of the government to the election process.
Rev Deegbe said the council was advocating not just the provision of resources but also a partnership with all Ghanaians to dialogue on any challenges and solutions before the polls in December 2008.
He said if the EC came out clearly with its needs and dialogue began, the commission would not be hard-pressed during the elections with the late supply of materials and other provisions.
Mr Kangah, in response to that, said the EC would soon begin consultations with all partners nation-wide.
He said the practice of the commission to meet with religious leaders, civil society organisations and others for deliberations and the sharing of ideas would soon start and all those issues would come up for discussion.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2008