The Minister of State II in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Patrick Conteh has told the Global Times that, as far as he knew, it is the policy of the government to ensure that NEC (National Electoral Commission) is being properly funded to be able to carry out its mandate of conducting all public elections inclusive of the March 7, 2018 Presidential and Legislative elections.
Dr. Conteh said that, the government cannot afford to provide the entire budget for NEC in one day, because of competing demands on the government for money. “I can assure you that, NEC is receiving funding as and when they make any urgent request for money to carry out their activities…They have a shopping list…And we are providing funding for their activities as and when those activities are due to be funded”, Dr. Conteh said.
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance pointed out that, the government faces a lot of challenges in revenue generation especially after the twin shock of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and the decline in the price of Iron Ore in the international market. “We are rebuilding the economy after it almost crashed some two years ago,” Dr. Conteh said.
According to the Minister of State Finance, the IMF has projected a growth of 6% in the economy. “It’s not easy to fund three elections in just one day…It’s very challenging”, Dr. Conteh admitted.
Dr. Conteh recalled that, even during the Ebola outbreak, the government did not sack any civil or public servant. “All salaries were paid in time and the social services were fully funded by the government,” he said.
The Minister of State admitted that the SLP (Sierra Leone Police) have not received their monthly rice supply for the past four to five months. “These are all issues that continue to occupy the mind of the President…But we are doing our best to address all these challenging issues and at the same time ensure that, funding is provided for NEC…The government has no intention to starve NEC of funds…We are keeping at pace with funding for NEC,” he told the Global Times.