Friday, January 4, 2013

Election to cost Sh25 billion

File | Nation Youth take part in a procession dubbed ‘One Nation, One People for Peace’ in Nakuru town on December 13 last year. The march sought to educate the public on the need to register as voters and hold peaceful elections.

File | Nation Youth take part in a procession dubbed ‘One Nation, One People for Peace’ in Nakuru town on December 13 last year. The march sought to educate the public on the need to register as voters and hold peaceful elections.  

By JOHN NGIRACHU jngirachu@ke.nationmedia.com

The cost of the March 4 General Election will be Sh24.9 billion, three times that of the last poll, the Finance ministry has revealed in a document tabled in Parliament.

The bulk of this cost was for the procurement of the biometric voter registration kits (Sh6.6 billion), recruitment and remuneration of election officials (Sh4.8 billion) and procurement of election materials and equipment (Sh3.8 billion).

The defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya spent Sh8 billion to organise the last General Election in 2007.

Outright majority.

Overall, says the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update tabled by Finance minister Njeru Githae in Parliament on Thursday, Kenya currently cannot afford a run-off in case any of the presidential candidates fails to garner an outright majority.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission needs Sh11.2 billion to effectively manage a run-off.

But the update says that “IEBC has no budgetary allocation to cater for the conduct of a presidential run-off”.

The money would be used to cater for the cost of increased materials, labour and security, as well as legal expenses arising from the competition between the two leading contenders for the presidency.

As he asked MPs to approve the Supplementary Budget Estimates in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Githae said the Treasury has set aside Sh5 billion for the Civil Contingency Fund, which caters for unforeseen expenditure, including expenses for a run-off.

Backbenchers on Thursday morning conspired to frustrate debate on the Sh58 billion Supplementary Budget Estimates.

But even if they pass the estimates next week, the fiscal update suggests Kenya could be Sh6.2 billion short of the money needed to finance a run-off.

This means that IEBC chairman Issack Hassan was wrong when he told the Nation in an interview on Thursday morning that the money allocated in the Supplementary Estimates could be enough.

Mr Hassan said IEBC would recall the same security and electoral officers employed and trained in the first round to oversee the run-off.

In case of a run-off, IEBC would have to provide ballot boxes that are different from those used in the first round. It would also have to order an additional batch of 14.3 million ballot papers.

Mr Githae suggested that Kenyans ought to prevent a run-off when they go to the polls in two months.

Plug a shortfall

“My request to Kenyans is: Please, make your decision. Give one of the coalitions votes in good and sufficient number to avoid a run-off,” he said.

“It is for the Kenyans to decide whether it is Jubilee, CORD or the Third Force or whatever it is. Please, Kenyans, if you want to save me from spending Sh5 billion, make up your mind. Give one of the coalitions all the votes to avoid a run-off. It would make me very happy. I can then use that money to tarmac new roads instead of it being wasted in a run-off, which is not necessary.”

Treasury plans to borrow Sh30.7 billion to plug a shortfall in the Supplementary Budget.

The General Election is considered a crucial test for Kenya considering that there was violence after the last one. With voters electing at least six people, Kenya will also embark on establishing a devolved form of government.

The Treasury says in the update that an unsuccessful transition to the decentralised system of government poses a risk to the country’s economic outlook as it could weaken investor confidence and slow down growth.

Under the new Constitution, the president retains the power to appoint the place and date of the first sitting of Parliament 30 days after its members are elected.

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