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An official prepares to open a ballot box in the 2007 election/XINHUA-File


Budget cuts pose risk to Kenya poll – IEBC

An official prepares to open a ballot box in the 2007 election/XINHUA-File

NAIROBI, Kenya May 22 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is warning that will be unable to efficiently manage the general election if it is not granted at least Sh31billion.

Commissioner Albert Bwire told Capital FM News that the commission runs the risk of holding the election originally planned for one day on two days.

Other essential matters that will be affected by the budget cut include the procurement of vehicles for the commission and the acquisition of biometric voter registration equipment.

He said in an exclusive interview with Capital FM News that the poll will be conducted across 45,000 polling stations.

“At Sh17.5 billion, it is extremely difficult to run this election, but if that is the amount available we will be forced to considerably reduce the number of polling stations. The greatest danger with reducing the number of polling stations is that we risk conducting the elections for more than one day,” said Bwire who chairs the IEBC’s finance committee.

“We might be forced to reconsider the biometric voter registration and procurement of vehicles but this will pose serious logistical challenges to the commission,” he added saying that hiring of vehicles by the commission was not a rational idea as the IEBC is expected to continue with voter registration even after the elections.

Last week, the departmental committee on Justice and Legal Affairs recommended in its report to Parliament that a sum not exceeding Sh17 billion be approved for the polls and that the electoral body raises another Sh50 million through services they render to support expenditures under the recurrent vote.

The 45,000 polling stations which Bwire described as the major cost drivers are expected to serve between 300-500 people each. Staff for each polling station will comprise a presiding officer, his deputy clerks and security personnel.

Sh7.8 billion has been budgeted as capital expenditure and will be used in the procurement of 200 vehicles and biometric voter registration equipment.

Sh1.9 billion is expected to be used on voter education; Sh1.8 billion on poll books while another Sh1 billion of the commission’s budget is expected to be directed towards procurement of ballot boxes.

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The IEBC expects to register 18 million voters for the election following proper delimitation of borders and the establishment of new constituencies and wards.

He said that the Sh31 billion is only budgeted for the first round of election and that the Treasury will be forced to facilitate a runoff from Contingency Fund in case first round fails to produce a winner with who meets the constitutional threshold.

“This budget is exclusive of the runoff; it is the Kenyan people who are going to determine if we are going to have a runoff. If the budget included funds for the runoff it would have hit Sh36.9 billion. If there I no re-run it will save the taxpayer about Sh5.4 billion and we gave gotten assurances from Treasury that it will be catered for,” he explained.

Bwire says that IEBC must start on the right footing with the next general election as it seeks to restore confidence in election management in the country.

Bwire insisted that the capital expenditure on the IEBC’s budget will only be incurred once and that subsequent elections will be much cheaper to finance.

He affirmed that Kenya cannot at the moment be compared to other countries that use less money on elections with a higher number of registered voters as the countries derive their voter register directly from the registrar of persons and also use civil servants in the polls.

The Legal Affairs Committee further recommended that IEBC should link its voter register electronically to the Ministry of Immigration.

Last week, IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan and Chief Executive Officer James Oswago revised the budget for the elections downwards from Sh35 billion to Sh31 billion.

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