By: Fred Yaw Sarpong
An election fund that will cater for Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) budget towards general election period in the country has been advocated.
Dr. Isaac Owusu Mensah, Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon said if Ghana is able to establish this fund it will go a long way to boost Ghana’s democracy and also take away the complain of having huge budget coming from the Electoral Commission in every election year.
“As a country we must prepare to invest into good governance. If we see the EC’s budget to be very huge why don’t we have an election fund? We can make it in such a way that a quarter percent of the Value Added Tax (VAT) is channel into the fund with a proper managerial team in place,” he stated.
“The EC will go through the managers of the fund and request the amount they need for an election like the 2016 election, Parliament review that and approve it subsequently for the EC. This will go a long way in addressing EC’s budget especially when is an election year,” he added.
He said this on Adom FM, an Accra based radio station in reaction to the budget coming from the EC during an election period and also as to whether Ghana should change from the four (4) year system for the Presidency to either five (5) years for two terms or the President should have seven (7) years for only term.
Dr. Mensah said he agree that the EC’s budget is too huge, but mentioned that “we must also understand that conducting election and moving towards appropriate transparent election is far more expensive. What I will rather say is that we should make sure that the budget given to the EC is use judiciously with auditing, procurement follows duly.”
“We should not be afraid because as Ghanaians we want to have a very good election and that will also come with a lot of expenses,” said Dr. Mensah.
He stated that there is no need for us as a country to compare the cost of democracy to the cost of conflict. This is because conflict is too much expensive and immeasurable to compare the two.
“If we are talking about the cost of conducting an election in Ghana, the EC’s budget is one aspect of budgets in every election period. Have we access the budget from the various political parties in the country? The kind of monies spent by these political parties are far exceeds what the EC ask for,” he reiterated.
The Commission budgeted GHc1.2 billion for the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. However, Parliament approved GHc826.8 million.
Touching on the Presidency, Dr. Mensah said the constitution has been in such a way that the President and his party are to run the country for four years which is subject for renewal for another for years.
He mentioned that beyond that some developed countries such as America runs four year system, Germany also has four system and at UK you can go as maximum of five years. He said these are advanced democracies Ghana is aspiring to be.
“When you look at these democracies they have money more than Ghana, so conducting election in those countries is not a problem and the way they conduct their elections seems to be among the best in the world,” he noted.
“Unfortunately in Ghana when it’s time for election there is fear and panic that grips the country. In 2012 the biggest news was 2012 election and in 2013 the biggest news was the election petition at Supreme Court.”
“Currently, the biggest news in the country is the 2016 general election. Different aspect of the election is been discuss in the news. Many are those who are asking questions about how this year’s election is going to be. There are those who are praying, others too are doing campaign and others too are thinking of how they will get rich from this year’s election. Everyone is doing his/her own because of 2016 election.”
“Many are those saying that election rip the coffers of the state. I agree but we should ask ourselves where the money goes to. The money belongs to the Ghanaians and it been spend on Ghanaians,” he said.
He mentioned that a lot of the developmental projects come up during an election period. “So for me it’s good the monies are been spent. Election is also very important part in our development process.”
“Compare to the countries like America, UK, Germany when is election year you don’t see them putting up school buildings, constructing roads and other developmental projects. These countries have already developed and they have such things available,” he added.
“For my own understanding the current arrangement that we have which is the four year system is not the perfect arrangement but I will still propose that we should maintain it for sometimes, at least 20 years more and let identify the problems we have and beyond that if we are about to review the constitution again then we consider either the five years for two terms or the seven years for one term,” he noted.
“For me I will not go for the seven years because if you are not lucky and Ghanaians elected a certain President who does not perform well, the country will suffer or the country will go into slavery for seven years and I think it’s too dangerous for a developing country like Ghana,” Dr. Mensah emphasized.