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The country’s four main political parties have welcomed government’s decision to release GH¢50 million for the biometric registration of voters for the 2012 general election.

The parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP), all described it as a step in the right direction, especially when the implementation of the biometric registration would eliminate multiple registration and voting as well as deepen the country’s democratic culture.

Last Thursday, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, announced, during the presentation of a supplementary budget in Parliament, that the government had earmarked GH¢ 50 million for the Electoral Commission (EC), which represents 67.5 per cent of about GH¢80 million budget submitted by the EC for the exercise.

The EC last Monday opened tenders submitted by seen shortlisted companies to select one that will undertake the biometric registration of Ghanaians before the 2012 elections. With the opening of the bids, all the documented proposals submitted by the seven companies will be opened and those that meet the stringent technical specification proposed by the EC will again be shortlisted to select one for the job.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the National Chairman of the NPP, said, “it’s a step in the right direction.”

He added that any programme that would make voter identify verifiable at the point of voting and eliminate multiple registration must be supported. He, however, expressed worry that the EC had not adequately involved the political parties through the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) which is made up of representatives of the main players, in such electoral activities.

Mr. Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, the General Secretary of the CPP, said the party was “happy that government was doing everything possible to secure the country a credible and transparent election”.

He said the EC, under the leadership of its current Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, had demonstrated over the years its ability to successfully mobilise funds to hold elections and expressed the hope that it would be able to get the total amount to complete the programme on time.

He said the huge number of spoilt ballots in the 2008 elections should guide the EC in education the electorate on the need to be circumspect during voting to avoid spoilage.

The National Chairman of the PNC, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, described the news as encouraging and a demonstration that Ghana was making strides in its democratic dispensation.

He said although biometric registration was expensive, it was necessary for sustaining the current stability that had been the envy of other nations in Africa.

He applauded the government for the timely release of the funds for the biometric registration for elections, which he said was critical for attaining free, fair and transparent elections.

The Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Richard Quarshigah, said the release of the GH¢50 million was a sign of the Mills administration’s commitment to progressive, effective, transparent and fair elections and to boost confidence in the electoral system.

He said it also put to shame detractors of the government who had been parading without facts that the Mills government would not adequately resource the EC to organise effective and transparent elections.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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