KAMPALA – The Electoral Commission (EC) has warned that the failure by the Treasury to provide the UGX456.6b that has remained as the shortfall in the coming 2019/2020 elections is likely to adversely affect the smooth flow of the 2021 general elections.
The warning was made by Justice Simon Byabakama, the chairman EC who had led a team of officials from the Commission to present their 2019/2020 budget before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
He explained that the 2019/2020 budget provides UGX100.99b out of the required UGX445.25b to fund the general elections roadmap and warned that if this budget shortfall is not addressed, it may adversely affect the smooth conduct of the elections.
In the coming budget, the Commission is set to receive only UGX188.5b of which UGX34.2b is for wages while UGX148b for non-wage and UGX6.2b for development.
However, the approved budget only accounts for 29.2% of the required budget leaving the Commission to battle with a funding gap of 70.8%. Most of the affected items lie under the general elections roadmap.
According to the breakdown, the Commission requested for UGX48.2b to cater for wages and the Treasury only approved UG34.2b leaving a gap of UGX14.6b while the non-wage general elections activities requested for UGX445.2b and only UGX100.99b was provided leaving a gap of UGX344.3b.
Of this, UGX3.3b will go to preliminary activities such as workshops and in-house training, while UGX937m for demarcation of electoral areas, UGX9.9b will be used for re-organisation of polling stations, while specialized training ICT, biometric and due diligence on ICT procurement will account for UGX774m.
Additionally, voter education under this component will require UGX12.08b, election observation support services UGX1.59b, publicity activities to cost UGX103.67b, while the installation of Oracle database management system for the national voters register UGX310m and acquisition of vehicles for district officers UGX18.35b while gazette notices UGX670m bringing the total shortfall to UGX155.32b.
Still regarding the budget shortfall, the Commission requested for UGX3.33b to be spent on voter education and only UGX312m was approved leaving a funding gap of UGX3.02b.
The Commission had projected to spend UGX48.09b on operations and only UGX33.3b was provided leaving a gap of UGX14.8b and of this figure, the Commission is looking for UGX5.13b of which only UGX1.12b has been provided leaving a gap of UGX4.01b yet the Commission was involved in a number of electoral cases and petitions in the courts of law being handled both in house and private law firms and the cost of private legal services and court awards against the Commission are estimated at UGX1.12b.
Although the EC had budgeted for domestic arrears and requested for UGX3.11b, no funds were allocated and in terms of the development budget from government where the EC requested UGX83.03b and only UGX6.2b provided leaving a shortfall of UGX76.8b bringing total of budget shortfall to UGX456.64b.