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EC: Shs456bn Budget Shortfall Will Adversely Affect 2021 Polls

The failure by the Treasury to provide the Shs456.6bn to the Electoral Commission that has remained as shortfall in the coming 2019/2020 budget will adversely affect the smooth organization of the 2021 general elections, the Electoral Commission has warned.

The warning was made by Justice Simon Byabakama, Chairman Electoral Commission, who had led a team of officials from the Commission to present their 2019/2020 budget before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Friday.

He revealed that the 2019/2020 budget provides Shs100.98bn out of the required Shs445.248bn to fund general elections roadmap and warned that if this budget shortfall is not addressed, it may adversely affect the smooth conduct of the elections

In the coming budget, the Commission is set to receive only Shs188.5bn of which Shs34.2bn is for wages while Shs148.09bn is for non-wage and Shs6.2bn for development.

However, the approved budget only accounts for 29.2% of the required budget, leaving the Commission to battle with a funding gap to 70.8% with most of the affected items lying under the general elections roadmap.

According to the breakdown, the Commission requested for Shs48.2bn to cater for wages and the Treasury only approved Shs34.2bn, leaving gap of Shs14.62bn, while the Commission had requested for Shs445.24bn for non-wage general elections activities, but only Shs100.98bn will be provided, leaving gap of Shs344.26bn.

Of this, Shs3.3bn will go towards preliminary workshops and in house training, while Shs937M for demarcation of electoral areas, Shs9.930Bn will be used for re-organisation of polling stations, while specialized training ICT, biometric and due diligence   on ICT procurement will account for Shs774M.

Additionally, voter education under this component will require Shs12.081bn, election observation support services Shs1.59bn, publicity activities to cost Shs103.6bn, while the installation of oracle database management system for the national voters register  will cost Shs310M.

Acquisition of vehicles for district officers will cost Shs18.34bn, while gazette notices will cost Shs670M, bringing total shortfall of Shs155.320Bn.

Still regarding the budget shortfall, the Commission requested for Shs3.331bn to be spent on voter education and only Shs312M was approved, leaving funding gap of Shs3.01bn.

The Commission had projected to spend Shs48.08bn on operations and only Shs33.29bn was approved,  leaving gap of Shs14.79bn and of this figure, the Commission is looking for Shs5.129bn of which only Shs1.2bnn has been provided, leaving a gap of Shs4.01bn yet the Commission was involved in a number of electoral cases and petitions in the courts of law being handled both in house and private law firms and the cost of private legal services and court awards against the Commission are estimated at Shs1.119bn.

Although the Electoral Commission had budgeted for domestic arrears and requested for Shs3.107bn, no funds were allocated and in terms of the Development budget from Government where the EC requested Shs83.030bn, only Shs6.2bn was approved, leaving shortfall of Shs76.8bn and  bringing the total budget shortfall of Shs456.6bn.

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