NAIROBI, Kenya, May, 19 – Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee has rejected a request from the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission’s (IEBC) for Sh35 billion to hold the next general elections, instead pressing the polls body to look for ways of cutting costs in lieu of the current budgetary constraints.
In a report submitted to the House on Thursday, the Committee Vice Chairperson Njoroge Baiya recommended that parliament approves a budget of Sh17.5 billion, which was similar to what the Treasury had initially given the poll agency for the March 4 elections.
“That a sum not exceeding Sh17,529,498,660 be approved for net recurrent expenditure and appropriations-in-aid amounting to Sh50,000,000 be raised to support expenditures under the recurrent vote,” the committee stated.
The legal team further recommended that the Commission link its voter register electronically to the Ministry of Immigration, so as to update its records each time a person becomes an eligible voter or passes on.
The IEBC Chairman Isaack Hassan had wanted a budget of about Sh35 million to enable them carry out the polls, including a presidential run-off, voter education and increased polling stations from 23,000 to 45,000 to cater for the over 15 million Kenyans expected to vote.
Baiya’s team said the IEBC budget for elections where Kenyans are expected to vote for six elective posts was too high, and suggested that the IEBC hire the required 247 vehicles instead of purchasing them.
The committee proposed that the IEBC also reduce personnel costs and negotiate for subsidized rates from government departments for their services.
In their estimates, the Commission had set aside 613 million shillings for police officers who would provide security at the polling stations on Election Day.
“The Committee finds the budget for elections too high and recommends that the IEBC utilises creative methods of reducing these costs, especially in view of current budgetary constraints. The committee notes with great concern the unconscionably high costs relating to electoral and other constitutional matters,” the committee complained.
It suggested that in future the Judiciary, the Law Society of Kenya, Parliament and other stakeholders in the electoral issues of the country work together in the establishment of a legislation that will manage reasonable electoral costs.
Many other departments under the Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Ministry also suffered major budget cuts. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) was allocated Sh1,007,670,000, less than half of the Sh3,284,000,000 requested. The Office was asked to implement its programmes in phases due to the budget constraints.
The Committee however agreed that the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties should be fully funded.
“The committee recommends that treasury needs to adhere to the law and allocate the full amount to the Political Parties Fund as stipulated in the Political Parties Act. The sum not exceeding Sh430,000,000 be approved for net recurrent expenditure under recurrent vote.”
For the State Law Office, which had requested for Sh3,619,000,000, the committee urged Treasury to provide additional funding requested to enable the office recruit and retain lawyers to strengthen the civil litigation department.
The Parliamentary committee generally agreed with the allocations given by the Treasury despite the organs under the Justice Ministry saying they were facing serious financial challenges that hampered their work.