Electoral Commission Budget for LC Elections questioned
Parliament’s committee on Public Service and Local Government has tasked the Electoral Commission to reduce its budget to conduct administrative units and women council elections.
The LC 1 and LC 2 elections are to be conducted at village and parish levels respectively, while women committees and councils are to be constituted from village to national levels.However, the LC 1 and LC 2 elections have not been held since 2001, in spite of calls from local governments and public on the urgency of the elections.
The total budget for organizing the elections is Ugx 37.5 billion; with Ugx 27.6 billion to conduct the LC 1 and LC 2 elections while Ugx 9.8 billion is meant to conduct the women council polls.
During a meeting convened by the committee where EC officials, led by chairman, Engineer Dr. Badru Kiggundu, Minister of Gender, Janat Mukwaya and Minister of Local Government appeared on Thursday September 29th, committee members scrutinized the budget and noted that part of the expenditure was unnecessary.
Some of the items that the MPs want slashed include Ugx 124.8 million to organize regional workshops for commission staff, including district registrars, district secretaries, drivers and regional staff.
Also budgeted for is Ugx 3.8 billion for display of voters’ registers, Ugx 594 million for materials for compilation of the voters’ register; Ugx 577 million for demarcation of administrative units and boundaries, 457 million for training of trainer workshops and Ugx 1.5 billion for publicity and voter education, to include compilation and display of voters’ register, nomination of candidates, campaigns and polling.
Eng. Kiggundu pleaded with the committee to task government, through the Ministry of Finance, to provide the funds, stating that the Commission has ready for the last 15 years to conduct the polls.
However, some MPs like Sam Bibesho, Kisoro Municipality wondered why EC wants more money to compile fresh registers yet it claimed earlier that they are ready.
Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga, Mukono South MP, also questioned the funds for regional workshops yet the officials planned for training underwent the same early this year. Raphael Magyezi, committee chairman tasked the EC to merge some of the activities in order to reduce expenditure.
During the meeting, there were suggestions by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga and Local Government Minister, Tom Butime that the EC uses Ugx 700 million, which was allocated for by-elections, as part of funds to conduct the elections. But the EC shot down the proposal, stating that the funds are specifically for the by elections.
State Minister of Finance, David Bahati appeared briefly before the committee, stating that there are no funds in the 2016/2017 budget for the polls, prompting the committee to direct all stakeholders to discuss the matter and come up with a resolution within three months.