Following the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to compile a new voters’ register as well as purchase a new biometric voter management system ahead of the 2020 December polls, policy think-tank IMANI Ghana, has presented what it calls ‘fresh evidence on the EC’s lies’ about the current state of the biometric system.
According to them, the new evidence establishes that the decision by the EC in such a pivotal election year is just to pave the way for a ‘corrupt procurement gig’.
Presenting the findings at the press conference in Accra on Tuesday, March 10, Vice-President (in Charge of Research) at IMANI Ghana, Bright Simons indicated that on page 5 of the “Special Budget Committee on the 2019 Budget Estimate of the Electoral Commission”, conclusive evidence is provided that the EC after complaining about its equipment in 2017, embarked on a major equipment and software (VMS) replacement and refurbishment exercise.
“On page 8 of that same report, we note that over US$40 million has gone into these activities,” Bright Simmons said.
He adds that this spending is on top of the roughly US$40 million expended on the same set of equipment in 2016 as attested by page 9 of the aforementioned report.
“So, in 2016 we refresh 7,500 Voter Registration System (VRS) and buy 40,000 Biometric Verification Devices (BVD’s) at the cost of the several millions. In 2018, we buy 2,000 more BVD’s, also for millions of dollars. And now, in 2020 we want to spend US$72 million buying a brand-new system?” he quizzed.
Mr Simons argued that the EC’s claim that it will cost just about US$56 million to procure a new system while the cost of refreshing and maintaining the existing one would cost US$74 million is a consistent and blatant lie about the true facts.
“Turns out it would cost US$15 million to refresh the 30 percent of the existing system that needs refreshing and that it will cost us US$72 million to replace just the hardware plus more for software. Add this to the cost of fresh mass registration, and the total of loss to Ghana of the EC’s actions amount to US$150 million, if one factors in contingency,” he concluded.
Since announcing its decision to acquire a new biometric voter management system (BVMS) and compile a new voters register, the EC has received the support of 13 political parties, led by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), while the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voters Register (IPRAN), which includes the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has kicked against the acquisition and the compilation.