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General News of Monday, 23 December 2019

Source: dailyguidenetwork.com

Minority snubs EC budget

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament on Saturday vehemently opposed the compilation of a new biometric voters’ register, with its associated cost by the Electoral Commission (EC).

This was before Parliament sought to approve an amount of GH¢1,063,157,629 for the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct elections in December 2020.

Of this amount, GH¢443.6 million would be used to compile a new biometric voters’ register.

Haruna Iddrisu, Leader of the Minority NDC, strongly argued that instead of spending such an amount on compiling a new voters’ register, the current register should rather be reviewed to save cost.

He said it was the same voters’ register which was used in the 2016 general elections to elect a new president in the person of Nana Akufo-Addo and all the 275 MPs and, therefore, did not understand why the same register could not be used in the 2020 general elections.

According to him, the Minority would never be part of the approval of the money meant for the compilation of a new voters’ register since it was a misplaced priority and waste of taxpayers’ money.

The Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) described the action of the Minority as too partisan and unfortunate.

The deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, who is also the NPP MP for Akwapim South, Osei Bonsu Amoah, said he did not understand why the NDC was running away from the compilation of a more robust voters’ register which would make the 2020 general elections more credible, especially after they had unanimously endorsed the entire budget at the committee level.

According to him, the current biometric voters’ register had a lot of flaws, including the inability of the machines to pick biometric information of voters, which led to manual verifications at the polling stations and, therefore, there was the urgent need for the current voters’ register to be replaced with a more robust one.

He indicated that a new biometric voters’ register would not only capture voters’ fingerprints but also the facial expressions of voters so that if the biometric information of a voter failed to be retrieved, their picture would be there to enable them to vote.

“We cannot rely on a malfunctioning electoral system which is prone to possible abuse. If we don’t do a better biometric register, the whole system could be compromised which could lead to instability in the country after the elections,” he said, stressing that a more credible biometric register would bring credibility and integrity to the 2020 general elections.

He urged the Minority NDC to commend the government for thinking about the security of the nation and embrace it.

The Minister of Communications and NPP MP for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, said the old biometric machines acquired by the EC had a lifespan of five years and, therefore, had expired which made it unable to function properly.

She, therefore, expressed her support for a complete change of the system and the compilation of a new voters’ register.

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the money that would be used to compile a new biometric register was part of the EC’s entire budget for 2020 which totalled about GH¢1 billion.

He said that in 2016, when the NDC was in power, the EC spent an amount of GH¢1.2 billion on the 2016 general elections without the EC compiling any voters’ register.

“I don’t know why the NDC is crying foul over this new register when indeed the amount being spent is an input of the budgetary allocation of GH¢1 billion which is far less than the GH¢1.2 billion the EC spent in 2016,” he added.