The Electoral Commission Chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama has expressed worry that the Commission may not be in position to hold smooth 2021 general elections due to failure to inadequacy of funds needed to run the elections.
He said this while appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present the Commission’s budget framework paper for the next financial year 2020/2021.
Byabakama said the money needed by EC will be used to print ballot papers, dispatch polling kits, cater for the welfare of polling officials, supervision of polling activities, and payment of polling officials, during the Presidential Parliamentary and local government elections which are all unfunded priorities.
Byabakama said that failure by government to provide money for the electoral activities will likely impact on the electoral process as this will affect the smooth management of the elections.
“The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) indicates provision for 2020/2021, is Shs 222.8bn out of the required Shs 357bn, hence there is a budget default Shs 134.2bn. Therefore the total budget shortfall for the general elections road map amounts to Shs 232.6bn if this shortfall is not addressed, it may adversely affect the smooth conduct of elections,” Byabakama said.
According to the Auditor General’s report of 2019, the Electoral Commission requires Shs 796.8bn to organize Presidential, Parliamentary and local council elections 2020/2021.
The amount is supposed to be released in three phases starting from the 2018/2019 to 2020/2021 to enable proper and timely implementation of the general elections.
However, as at June 30, 2019, a total of Shs 141bn (18%) had been released to implement the activities of 2018/2019 and 2019/200 instead of Shs 439bn with one year to the elections.
The activities critical to the roadmap that should have been implemented include; demarcation of electoral areas, re-organization of polling stations, specialized training (ICT, biometrics and due diligences of ICT procurement), voter education, acquisition of biometric voter verification system, developing election document management system, digitizing elections documents and setting up an election digital archive among others.
Byabakama also says the Commission seeks Shs 72 billion by October to facilitate the Commission in vacating its current headquarters so as to allow for construction of the Kampala fly over.