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19 January 2017

Electoral officials chase EC for unpaid allowances

Two hundred thousand election officials who were engaged by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the conduct of the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections are yet to be paid their allowances.

This is due to the delay by the Ministry of Finance in releasing the money to the EC for onward payment to the returning officers, presiding officers and ballot paper issuers.

Following the delay in the payment of their allowances, some of the election officials have placed calls to threaten the EC, but the government has given an assurance that part payment will be made to them this week.

The Head of Communications at the EC, Mr Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the government approved the amount (running into hundreds of Ghana cedis) for the election officials, printers and suppliers before the elections.

However, he said, the ministry was yet to release the money to the EC to enable it to effect payment to the election officials, printers and suppliers.

But a highly-placed source at the Presidency told the Daily Graphic that the President had instructed that all efforts be made to pay the affected persons,

Mr Dzakpasu said the EC had been following up on the ministry for the release of the money and expressed the hope that the money would be released soon, although he could not give any timelines.

He, therefore, asked the election officials to rest assured that they would get their allowances as soon as the money was released to the EC.

“We are afoot in working for the release of the money. The people should rest assured that they will get their money,” he said.

The services that the officials rendered included checking of names, verification of voters, application of indelible ink on the fingers of voters, counting of votes cast and tabulation of results of both the presidential and the parliamentary elections.

It was the presidential election that saw Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo securing 5,716,609 votes, representing 53.84 per cent of the valid votes cast, to snatch the Presidency from former President Mahama, who secured 4,713,277 votes, representing 44.40 per cent.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) secured 169 parliamentary seats, as against 106 by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in the parliamentary election.

Range of allowances

Prior to the December 7, 2016 elections, the EC had announced allowances for election officials for the election.

A statement signed by the EC’s Deputy Chairperson in charge of Corporate Services, Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwa, said returning officers were to be paid GH¢800; deputy returning officers, GH¢700, and collation officers, GH¢700 flat.

It said technicians were entitled to GH¢500; presiding officers, GH¢400, with feeding allowance of GH¢30.

The statement said verification officers and name reference list officers were to be paid GH¢350 for ration and GH¢30 for feeding, while those in charge of ballot issue were entitled to a ration of GH¢300 and feeding fee of GH¢30.

Threats on EC

Mr Dzakpasu said he had been receiving threatening messages from election officials who were taken on a temporary basis.

He described the situation as very disturbing, since it was very difficult for the temporary officials to understand why they had still not received their allowances a month after the elections.

Mr Dzakpasu said the printers and suppliers understood the situation and so they did not engage in such threats.

Ministry responds

Responding to enquiries about what the government was doing about the delay in the payment of allowances, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance, Mr Patrick Nomo, told the Daily Graphic that part of the amount would be released today (January 18, 2017).

He said an amount of GH¢800 milion was released to the EC before the December 7, 2016 elections, but the EC, on December 13, 2016, wrote to the ministry that it had overrun its budget by GH¢293 million.

“The plan is to make part payment on January 18, 2017 and spread the rest over a period.

“We will review the election expenditure, but in the meantime, we will release part of the amount to the EC,” Mr Nomo assured.

He was, however, silent on the amount to be released to the EC.

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