Kenya referendum faces Sh2b funding gap

July 5, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – The August 4 referendum is now faced with a fresh cash funding crisis amounting to Sh2 billion, which the Interim Independent Electoral Commission says puts the vote in jeopardy.

Members of the IIEC met the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs on Monday over the new crisis and termed the deficit “a big threat to the exercise.”

“Unless we get the money we will be unable to carry out the exercise,” IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan told Capital News on phone after the meeting.

“We requested the Treasury to allocate us Sh4.6 billion for the exercise but we only got Sh2 billion in the budget.”

A crisis meeting between IIEC, the Legal Affairs Committee and officials from the Ministries of Finance and Justice and Constitutional Affairs is now planned for Wednesday to address the matter.

“We have already written to the Treasury over the matter,” added Mr Hassan. “A Sh2 billion deficit is big.”

Besides printing ballot papers and purchasing new transparent ballot boxes, the commission will employ over 60,000 temporary workers to assist in the referendum.

The commission also has a huge budget for voter education and publicity in readiness for the exercise and high transport expenses.

Currently, the IIEC is preparing for the Matuga constituency by-election and another 26 civic polls scheduled for July 12 which have also consumed a considerable amount of its budget.

This is the second time the Treasury is involved in a funding row over the proposed Constitution having been embroiled in a similar tussle with the Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review (CoE) over civic education program funding.

The Finance Minister slashed the committee’s allocation in last year’s Budget leading to a Sh330 million deficit. Civic education was almost grounded as the row raged but it was eventually resolved. The Experts had said their work was grounded but the Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta at the time insisted he did not have any more funds.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga intervened in the crisis after which the CoE was promised a further Sh500 million allocation in this year’s Budget.

It is not clear how the current impasse will be resolved since the Budget has already been presented to Parliament.


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