Funding for elections readily available – GECOM Chairman

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FUNDING for the holding of the upcoming May 11 General and Regional elections is being readily made available, according to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally.

“The monies are available,” he assured, in a recent interview with the Guyana Chronicle.
A move to elections, more than a year earlier than due, will cost a pretty penny. The cost is as much as $1.6B, which is part of a $3.3B allocated to GECOM in the 2014 Budget, in the event that the Commission had to prepare for the holding of elections.
The $1.6B is intended to allow GECOM to exercise general direction and supervision over the registration of electors and the administrative conduct of all elections of members of the National Assembly, the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and local authorities in Guyana.
While the GECOM Chairman has assured that he foresees no challenges in accessing funds for the hosting of the May 11 General and Regional elections, the cost of a return to the polls, earlier than due, was recently questioned – particularly considering that the other option was a meeting of the political minds.
Since the President’s move to prorogue Parliament on November 10, there have been varying sentiments from different sections of society, many being in support of the prorogation, which would facilitate dialogue in face of the current political impasse.
Both A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) at the time of the prorogation, made it clear that they will not engage the President in talks unless the prorogation is lifted and Parliamentary work resumes.
The President has always maintained that the need for dialogue was uppermost in his mind when he made his decision. Paving the way for greater dialogue among political parties, he contends, would have kept the 10th Parliament alive to address critically important issues currently before the National Assembly.
Some of these matters include: The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently with the Parliamentary Special Select Committee; and the second reading of the Education Bill 2014, the Land Surveyors Bill 2014, and the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2014. Also among the Bills scheduled for a first reading are the Food Safety Bill 2014, and the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) (Amendment) Bill 2014. Other important matters before the National Assembly include the appointment of Members to the Rights of the Child Commission (ROC) and the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
The move to prorogation was in face of an AFC-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Government. The effect of ending the first session of the 10th Parliament via prorogation is the termination of the business of the National Assembly. As a result, the AFC’s motion was not considered. Also APNU had, prior to November 10, signalled its intent to support the push through of the motion. Had it not been for the proclamation to prorogue Parliament, if the no-confidence motion was passed, Guyana would have been headed to early general elections within three months.
Guyanese are looking at 99 days until May 11. The last general and regional elections were held in November 2011. (Vanessa Narine)