The Inquirer (Monrovia)

2 April 2014

Liberia: Gov't to Borrow Money for Special Election

With barely five months ahead of the country's special election, the plenary of the Liberian Senate has passed an Act mandating the Executive Branch to borrow money for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to carry out its function. To conduct the pending October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election, it is reported that the NEC needs US$10. 3m for its operation within the 15 political sub-division of the country.

It may be recalled that the NEC has complained about serious budgetary constraints it is faced with and perhaps it could hamper the smooth conduct of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election scheduled for October 14.

NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, last September said that the delay in the passage of the national budget has stalled preparatory work that could lead to the conduct of a successful Senatorial Election this year.

But during the 22nd day sitting of the Senate yesterday, the Senate Ways, Means Committee represented by Sumo G. Kupee of Lofa, Alphonso G. Gaye, Grand Gedeh, Isaac W. Nyenabo, Grand Gedeh, Edward Dagoseh of Cape Mount among others told their colleagues that taking into consideration the time frame to the October election, government cannot raise money now to support the electoral process but can go ahead to take a loan.

The Ways, Means Committee members acknowledged that the 2013/2014 fiscal budget did not provide proper funding for the special election, so it is prudent that the President of Liberia instructs the Ministry of Finance to precede borrowing money in order to carry out this important exercise.

Senator Alphonso G. Gaye, a member of the committee told plenary that his committee reached the decision as a result of the US$47m shortfalls government is experiencing in two budgetary years.

The Act which is referred to as "Election Loan Funding" when concurred by the House of Representatives will authorize the Finance Ministry to take a loan of only US$10.3M for the NEC.

When the special election is not held due to budgetary constraints, the government will be declared illegitimate (unlawful). The Act was overwhelmingly voted for by most Senators yesterday and it is now going to the House for concurrence.

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