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General News of Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Source: classfmonline.com

Mahama: EC well-resourced for 2016 polls

President John Mahama has asked Ghanaians to rest assured ahead of next year’s general elections because the Government has adequately resourced the Electoral Commission to undertake its work.

“We’ve budgeted for the elections,” he said in Tamale recently.

“The Ministry of Finance, the Electoral Commission, and a committee we call the Special Budget Committee of Parliament sat and went through the Electoral Commission’s budget for next year, because next year is an election-year and sufficient funds were allocated in order that the Electoral Commission can do its work.

“So you can rest assured that the Electoral Commission has been given enough money for its work,” Mr Mahama reassured the electorate. President Mahama’s comments follow Finance Minister Seth Terkper’s recent budget presentation to Parliament in which he promised that the Electoral Commission will be well-resourced to conduct the elections.

“…I assure that the EC will be adequately resourced to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections,” Mr Terkper said, adding: “Let there be no doubt that the economy benefits from our peaceful and acclaimed elections.”

Ghana goes to the polls in November next year to elect a new President and a new Parliament. During Friday’s 2016 budget presentation, Mr Terkper told Parliament that the Mahama administration will resist the temptation to overspend during the elections.

He said 2016 is a significant year because it is an election year, but despite that fact, “we will resist the temptation of election-year overspending.”

Election year overspending has been an established trend in Ghana. The situation invariably spirals the economy into the doldrums after every general elections.

A three-year bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund has compelled the Government to adopt austere measures geared towards stabilising the economy and shoring up the value of the Cedi.

Ahead of Friday’s budget presentation, the main opposition New Patriotic Party had expressed fears that the Government will spend “recklessly” for political purposes.

Acting Chairman Freddie Blay said at a press conference Wednesday that the budget will be an “election-year budget” which will be replete with “reckless spending” and “corruption,” a situation which he said makes the NPP “nervous”.

According to him, the key aim of the IMF bailout programme is to “control public expenditure to avoid the horrendous experience of reckless spending we saw in 2012, which has brought years of untold hardship on the people caused the cedi to fall heavily, collapsed businesses, created mass unemployment, piled up huge debts, all forcing us to go for the IMF bailout in the first place”.

Mr Terkper, however, told Parliament that the Government will be financially disciplined in its expenditure next year.