Liberia elections commission, Senate bicker over biometrics introduction for 2023 polls
Plans by Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) to introduce biometric voter registration ahead of the 2023 polls as well as a pilot for biometric voting in the West African country are being threatened.
This follows some bickering between the NEC and two Senate Committees over the latter’s allocation of a total sum of US$91.9 million for the biometric system, and the setting up of 14 magistrate offices, Front Page Africa (FPA) reports.
While the Senate joint Committee thinks that the country does not have the required funds at this point in time to introduce biometrics for the upcoming polls, NEC on its part is arguing that there is the possibility to put in place the system.
The Joint Senate Committee on Autonomous Commission and Agencies and Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, is by this fact, asking the Senate plenary to call for an adjustment of the amount of money proposed in the budget for the organization of the 2023 polls.
The joint Committee has been tasked to examine the proposed budget and then make suggestions to the plenary on possible adjustments regarding the planned spending on biometrics technology for the upcoming elections.
“As a country, we do not have the financial capacity to do Biometric Voter Registration. The joint committee encourages the government of Liberia to negotiate, consult and seek help from our international Partners to do BVR is we agree to do it now,” FPA quotes the Joint Committee as saying.
It adds that the joint Committee has requested the reprogramming of the budget and has recommended that the Finance and Development Planning Ministry disburses money based on the revised figures.
The joint Senate Committee is also said to be in opposition to the setting up of 14 proposed magistrate offices.
Defending the budget in front of the joint Committee, NEC said the biometric voter registration system would cost $29.6 million, while the pilot phase of the biometric system in the Rivercess Country would require the sum of $4 million, the outlet notes. It mentions that next year, NEC will be in need of $41 million to carry out pre-election activities.
The African Youth Peer Review Committee, a pan African youth organization, recently praised Liberia for announcing plans to introduce biometrics to its electoral system.
Liberia will organize Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2023.