By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mamburay Njie, has informed lawmakers that his-led ministry has disbursed D126 million to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for the conduct of its activities.
“Just to confirm, the IEC requested up to this morning D126 million for their operations and I want to confirm to the committee that we have released the entire amount of D126 million to the IEC,” Minister Njie said on Monday while appearing before the joint committee on IEC and Constitutional Matters of the National Assembly to express his views on the election bill 2021.
Commenting on the election bill, Njie told the committee that his ministry has reviewed and made consultations on the election bill and that the only two sections that relates to fiscal issues are sections 14 and 87 subsection 4 of the bill.
He said section 14, which deals with the registration of Gambians abroad, might also have budgetary implications. He said the aforesaid sections did not only deal with the registration of Gambians abroad, but also availing them with the opportunity to vote as Gambians in the diaspora.
“However, if the authorities want to proceed with this, and it not already factored in the IEC budget, then we will have to consider an SAP (Supplementary Appropriation Bill) item, with a detail cost to us,” he said.
Minister Njie said section 87 subsection 4 also mentioned the granting of exemption for the payment of custom duties to a candidate or political party, in respect of importation of election materials on the presentation of the certificate of authorization issued by the IEC.
“This definition of election materials is quite broad and could be subject to abuse. Hence it would be preferable if this is properly defined to state what constitute election material. It is also not in line with our ongoing reform to streamline and harmonize tax waiver,” he said.
Njie reminded the committee that the country is losing almost 5 percent of its GDP, which he said is huge. He said the Custom Act gives the powers to the ministry to grant duty waiver. He said this section of the election bill will contradict the Public Finance Act, since the IEC will provide the authorization in this case.