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ECJ to submit election budget

Published:Tuesday | April 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

With Local government polls due by March 2015, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) says it will be submitting an election budget to the Ministry of Finance.

Meantime, an additional $13.3 million has been allocated in the Estimates of Expenditure for compensation to employees at the ECJ. The Estimates of Expenditure, which was tabled last week in the House of Representatives, will today be examined by the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.

In a Gleaner interview, Director of Elections Orrette Fisher said the ECJ would be submitting an election budget amounting to more than $1 billion.

"When an election is due, there is a budget that looks at everything that will be required to run an election," Fisher pointed out.

The Estimates of Expenditure also shows a marginal increase in the sum set aside for registration of voters, moving from $333.1 million in the last fiscal year to $335.1 million in the current financial year.

Fisher noted that the ECJ would also be intensifying its exercise to clean the voters' list of dead electors.

Work to be done

He said ohter significant work to be done by the ECJ this year is a review of the electoral boundaries which became due on April 1, 2014. According to the director of elections, the Constitution of Jamaica stipulates that every four to six years, a constituency-boundary review must be carried out. He said a budgetary increase was requested to deal with this review.

In relation to the $13-million increase to ECJ employees, Fisher explained that the sum included incremental salary increase within salary band and two vacancies were filled in preparation of "any eventuality going forward".

The Estimates of Expenditure shows a $259.8-million allocation for compensation to ECJ employees this fiscal year compared with $246.4 million over the last financial year.

Additionally, he said the auditor general reported deficiencies in the audit department and a reclassification exercise was carried out. He said the auditor general also recommended that the ECJ recruit an information technology auditor as part of the establishment. He said this has since been approved by the Ministry of Finance.