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Why team wants Sh19b more to fund 2022 polls

NATIONAL
By Allan Mungai | November 25th 2021

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kenyans will have to dig deeper into their pockets to raise a further Sh19.3 billion to finance what is shaping up as the most expensive General Election.

The Standard can now reveal that a multi-agency team of the Ministry of Interior, Judiciary, the electoral commission and other government ministries and agencies involved with next year's polls is seeking Sh24 billion for the August 9 exercise.

One of the agencies that will see its budget increase significantly is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which says it has a deficit of Sh7 billion that could hamper efforts to conduct a successful election.

IEBC had sought a budget of Sh40.9 billion, but the National Treasury allocated Sh26.3 billion in the current financial year, which was ratified by Parliament. That left a deficit of Sh14.6 billion.

The Sh19.3 billion will be in addition to allocations the multi-agency team received during the 2021/2022 financial year. The Judiciary has been allocated Sh17.9 billion. Now the courts say it will need at least Sh5.5 billion for the elections.

The National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum has proposed adjustments to next year's election budget to adequately fund activities it says will ensure no hitches.

Chief Justice Martha Koome, the chairperson of the team, said the additional money will ensure the election is credible, free and fair.

Some of the cash will go towards providing meals for police officers, improving the Judiciary's information technology infrastructure, and recruiting more staff for roles that will arise during the process.

On Tuesday, CJ Koome was in a meeting on election preparedness at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete. The forum adopted an engagement framework for the election that is expected to enhance coordination of initiatives, strengthen information sharing, enhance public education, and enhance resource mobilisation and use.

The different teams also presented their budgets for election-related activities. The meeting was a follow up to an earlier one held last month, which brought together the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that will play a role in the election.

It was attended by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, and Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi, among others. 

This high-level forum also consists of Parliament, National Treasury, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, Council of Governors, National Police Service, and the Communications Authority.

The meeting chaired by the Chief Justice considered the work plan prepared by the technical working committee and prepared the proposed budget.

The budget is broken down into two categories–activities running in the current financial year that are underfunded and activities in the 2022/23 financial year whose budget could not be adequately funded within the budget ceiling of the 2021/22 financial year.

The first category consists of activities for the MDAs that require Sh13.8 billion while category two activities will add up to Sh5.44 billion. The total additional budget required for the two financial years (2021/22 and 2022/23) for all MDAs is Sh19.235 billion.

Justice Koome said the team is expected to meet again next week to ratify the budget proposals after they are harmonised by the technical committee.

"After deliberations, the forum has adopted the work plan and the reports that were tabled. The forum has, however, requested the technical working group to further review the budgetary proposals so that there is proper harmonisation," she said.

She added that there were items that could have been provided for in the current budget while others were left out. "We have asked the TWC to harmonise and ensure needs of all the MDAs connected with the election are properly and comprehensively considered."

Some of the activities listed as underfunded are meal allowances for police officers, which the National Police Service says will need an additional Sh1.13 billion.

Between now and December 2022, the police service is also asking for Sh874 million to fuel helicopters to be used during the election. And if the budget is approved without any adjustment, Sh2 billion will be used to equip the police with gear.

The IEBC said that the registration of voters, verification and audit of the voters' register, statutory documentation, settling of election-related pending bills, and training of police officers, IEBC staff and other stakeholders on election security are some of the activities that have been underfunded.

The polls body wants an additional Sh7.04 billion to cover those functions.

The Judiciary wants Sh3.6 billion to play its role effectively. It says it foresees a scenario where it is inundated with election petitions and wants Sh1.5 billion to recruit additional staff, including 20 judges, to handle the poll cases.

The ICT Ministry wants Sh220 million to upscale ICT infrastructure in the Supreme Court. The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties has also lined up activities that will require Sh195 million.

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