Members of the House of Representatives have summoned Chairman Jerome George Korkoya of the National Elections Commission for allotting US$1. 9 million for car rental in the budget of the ensuing October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.
They took the decision yesterday, during their Tuesday's sitting in the chamber of the lower house, suggesting that the US$1.9 million was a 'waste of resources', too much to conduct the election.
Chairman Korkoya has been officially informed, through a communication by the Chief Clark of the House, to appear before the full membership of the house next Tuesday at 11:00am to show cause as to why such amount should be spent 'loosely and wastefully'. According to the communication, failure on his part to convince lawmakers, the money could be reduced to an 'understandable' amount.
But during the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Elections under the leadership of former Chairman James Fromoyan, the NEC spent US$11 million on vehicle rental, with the fund provided by the United Nations Development for Program or UNDP.
For the Special Senatorial Election in October, the US$1.9 million is provided by the Liberian Government. The NEC, Wednesday, confirmed to this paper that it has awarded the contract to the Efficient Logistics Services to provide 200 vehicles for the Voters Roll Update, which is to last for forty-five (45) days.
The Commission has defended such huge spending on car rentals, saying that the elections were expensive. The National Elections Commission recently announced January 29 to March 21 as the new schedule for the start of the Voters' Roll Update Exercise after initially suspending the process due to budgetary delays.
NEC Chairman Jerome George Korkoya said the decision followed negotiations with relevant government institutions, including the Public Procurement Concession Commission, which granted waiver to the Commission to allow it award a contract for the hiring of vehicles for the deployment of materials and personnel to conduct the Voters' Roll Update Exercise.
The US$1.9Million allotted for vehicle rental has sparked serious public debate here with some saying that spending such huge among only on car rental for just forty-five days was not a wise decision. "If we need to spend US$3 million on car rental, we will spend it, because elections are expensive, and we have no regret for doing anything of such," Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor told this paper.
"We are independent Commission here, and we are not answerable to anybody; so you shouldn't come here and question us about how we spend money here," Commissioner Jeanette A. Ebba-Dividson noted.
NEC Co-Chair, Cllr. Sarah Doe vowed that the NEC will not follow any pattern of other government entities, saying "We cannot do what every Tom, Dick and Harris is doing around here; we are about to have a very important election; so we will not joke about our functions here."
Chairman Korkoya defended: "This is the company that we dealt with before; that is why we gave them the contract; in fact, they were the ones that won the bid, and the PPCC process was followed."