- Last Updated on 25.05.2018
The Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome Korkoya says Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah should “stop barking like German Shepherd Dog” in his utterances about the commission’s proposed US3.9 million Dollars budget for the holding of two by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties. The by-elections came as a result of vacancies created by the election of former Senators George Manneh Weah as President of Liberia and Jewel Howard Taylor as Vice President on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Cllr. Korkoya’s comments were in response to recent statement from Minister Tweah that the amount needed for the conduct of by-elections in Bong and Montserrado Counties as announced by the elections commission is unrealistic and the elections are unnecessary.
The NEC Chairman argued that the best thing the Finance Minister could as was done by his predecessor is to call the experts in and talk with them. He intimated that whenever the NEC submitted a budget, the commission would be called to provide justification. “We realize that this is public funding and we have to account for it,” Chairman Korkoya added.
“We shouldn’t even have these discussions. I think we should do the responsible thing by sitting quietly and see whether we can invite donors and discuss budget items and see if they can help rather than going around and barking all over the place like a German Shepherd,” he emphasized.
“This is election. We have stakeholders and all these people have roles to play and not for one person to sit and decide," Cllr. Korkoya intoned.
According to the National Elections Commission Chairman, it is bizarre that the Commission sent a communication to the Finance Minister and he hasn’t even given them the courtesy of acknowledgement but chose to make denigrating comments about the NEC’s budget.
Chairman Korkoya told newsmen in Monrovia that the pending by-elections stand a risk of constitutional crisis as the Commission has already begun postponing important deadline dates.
“This is constitutional and not discretional; we cannot postpone election dates," he opined.
"We are waiting for the government. Whether or not they want to hold election, it is in their purview,” Chairman Korkoya noted.
The NEC Chairman expressed concern that the Ministry of Finance was not responding to the budget intended to run the two by-elections simultaneously. He further stated that because of the delay from the Ministry, the Commission is in a position of uncertainty.
Finance Minister Tweah indicated that the Ministry of Finance will rigorously scrutinize every budget emanating from all government’s spending entities.
“To spend money on election that is not necessary is like taking away money from John F. Kennedy Hospital,” Minister Tweah said.
“To have US$3.9 million on election is not going to happen”, Minister Tweah added.
He argued that NEC already has trained staffs that are capable of conducting the by-elections, citing the experience they have acquired during the 2017 election.
“So, my budget people have worked and they think that US$1.2 million can hold the elections. Some estimates say US$1.5 million should be (able to hold the elections), but we are going to have a discussion with the National Elections Commission and we are going to say this is the pro-poor election budget,” Finance Minister Tweah stated.
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