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Ghana’s election agency denies accusation that new biometric gear wasted public money

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All
Ghana’s election agency denies accusation that new biometric gear wasted public money
 

Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) has struggled lately with multiple controversies, and another has emerged with claims of massive spending on procurement for biometric verification devices (BVDs) and biometric voter registration kits (BVRs).

The EC in a recent statement argues that it didn’t spend $150 million on purchasing BVDs and BVRs in 2020 as Bright Simons, a social entrepreneur and vice president of think tank IMANI, has been insinuating.

According to the statement, signed by the electoral agency’s Deputy Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Fred Tetteh, the current leadership of the EC rather saved the country from losing huge sums of money in 2018 by cancelling a costly procurement plan by the former EC administration on refurbishing election equipment.

The previous administration of the EC had, in 2018, budgeted for and obtained approval to the tune of $56 million, for the refurbishment of BVDs and BVRs and the construction of a data center and the purchase of other election related material, the EC says.

The statement reveals that instead of going ahead with the proposed plan, the current EC administration rather “made a strategic decision to cancel the contract for the total refurbishment and the procurement of new BVDs, opting for a minimal maintenance arrangement.”

The EC says that in 2020 when it decided to acquire new biometric gear, it proposed a budget that “saved this country an amount of $57,918,270 compared to the price at which the old administration was going to pay for new BVDs and BVRs.”

“Please, note that the cost of refurbishing one BVR kit as approved in 2018 was $3,565 while the cost of a new BVR kit purchased by the current administration in 2020 was $3,423. As Ghanaians, would we have preferred to refurbish old BVRs at a unit cost higher than a new one?” the EC asks rhetorically.

Apart from the BVD and BVR, the statement indicates that the current administration of the EC spent $6.1 million for a new data center, new “data recovery center and related services,” as opposed to $15 million proposed for the same purpose by the previous EC administration.

IMANI has, in a write-up posted to its website, reacted to the EC’s outing, describing its conduct as “dangerous and pathological.” The think tank says the electoral agency is trying to twist and hide the truth of the matter.

The EC has recently had to struggle to defend itself against accusations that some BVR kits went missing, an action which was feared to have the potential to comprise the integrity of the country’s general elections in December.

The election umpire was also recently forced to abandon a plan to make the Ghana Card the only proof of ID for biometric voter registration in the upcoming elections.

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