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MPs give IEBC Sh19 billion for 2017 elections

By Wilfred Ayaga | May 20th 2016

A key House committee has approved a Sh19 billion budget for the 2017 General Election.

But the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to ensure credible polls.

The committee drew the red line after commission Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba presented IEBC's budget, which members had earlier threatened to block unless commissioners responded to corruption allegations contained in a damning Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report.

The Committee yesterday told IEBC that it had no reason to conduct a shoddy election after receiving the billions, which will partly be used to buy new Biometric Voter Registers (BVRs) and install a new results-transmission system. Both failed in the last elections in what was blamed on delayed procurement and vested interests in the commission.

"As a committee, we would not like you to tell us that the results from certain regions cannot be found. I believe you now have adequate funds," said Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi).

Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya said it would be a shame if the commission repeated the 2013 mistakes. He suggested that manual and electronic results transmission be done simultaneously to eliminate claims of electoral malpractice. He said delays in voter transmission were responsible for claims of election fraud.

"Now that you don't have the opportunity to excuse yourselves, are you guaranteeing the country that manual and electronic transmission will be done concurrently? When there are delays in voter transmission, tension and suspicion grows. These are the areas where we need reforms, and we want to know if that is what you are going to deliver," he said.

IEBC requires a total of Sh27 billion to conduct the elections. The money will however, be disbursed in the 2016-2017 and  2017-2018 financial years, which means that the purchase of some of the elections equipment will wait until the next budget.

The money will be appropriated for general election operations (Sh20 billion), voter registration (Sh 3.3 billion), voter-register inspection (Sh 1.2 billion), and hiring lawyers for post-poll disputes (Sh508 million).

The  secretariat, which is IEBC's administrative arm, is working in the shadows of a sustained onslaught on the commissioners to vacate office following their role in the 2013 botched procurement.

Mr Chiloba said his office was moving on with preparations for the elections, including plans to engage in another round of voter registration from February to March next year.

He defended the commission's budget, arguing the money was necessary to ensure credible systems were in place.

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