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ECN to face a tough time as budget runs drastically low … while political parties bag N$91 million

by Kelvin Chiringa

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) will find the going getting tough ahead of national elections as its budget has been dealt a severe blow. 

The proposed ceiling for the 2018/19 financial year has been cut from N$106 million to only N$68 million, implying that its budget has been reduced by N$38 million while the entire capital project budget was cut to zero. 

From the paltry N$68 million, an amount of N$51 million has been put to personnel expenses for in-house staff while non-personnel expenses have been reduced to a measly N$17 million.  

Speaker of Parliament, Peter Katjavivi, last week raised the red card over the ability of the ECN to fulfill its mandate, “Usually such an amount of N$17 million under normal circumstances is merely for one division in the ECN and not for the whole agency.” 

He said that this implies that the N$17 million shall be distributed amongst all divisions of the vote counting body. 

Katjavivi has made his emotions clear and told parliament that the entire operations of the ECN will be greatly challenged during 2018/19.  

Budget break down. 

The ECN’s allocation goes to two main programs, policy coordination and support services and an amount of N$13 million has been allocated for contingency provisions for by-elections. 

Another N$8.9 million is for personnel expenditures and a mere N$4.7 million remaining for non-personnel expenses or procurement of goods and services.  

An amount of N$25 million has been put to voter education, N$20 million being for personnel expenses and N$4.7 million for the procurement of goods and services. 

ECN’s day to day activities will be backed up by an allocation of N$29 million with N$11 million distributed to the commission services, office of the chief executive officer, finance division, human resources management, auxiliary services and the IT section. 

“Despite such challenges, hopefully, the ECN has to discharge these duties successfully and thereby uphold the democracy enshrined in our constitution and the electoral law of the Republic of Namibia,” said Katjavivi. 

Meanwhile, political parties have been thrown their way an amount of N$91 million with N$39 million coming from the National Assembly’s initial budget allocation while N$52 million came from the contingency fund. 

“I should hasten to add that an amount of N$642 000 was deducted from our original operation budget and N$10 million from the development budget,” said the Speaker.