The next election will cost an estimated 15 billion shillings stated the Finance Minister, Njeru Githae, earlier this week. 15 billion shillings represents the largest budget for an election since the country’s independence. According to various newspaper reports the amount is a 300% rise from the cost of the 2007 elections, and 6 billion shillings more than was spent on the 2010 constitutional referendum.
Electioneering is expensive and the bigger the elections the higher the cost. In the first election under the new constitution, in one day at least 20 million Kenyans are expected to vote, in six electoral contests (President/Deputy, Member of the National Assembly, Special Women Ballot, Senator, Governor/Deputy, Members of the County Assemblies), taking place in 290 constituencies and 1,450 wards, plus other special seats elected on the basis of a party list. All this of course comes at a cost. The 15 billion shillings is mostly for the administrative and logistical part of running the elections, and does not factor in the billions of shillings that it will cost to the run the new government once it is in place. Clearly politics remains resilient even in a poor economy.
Since this is the first election under the new dispensation there is little way of telling if there is an equally efficient but less expensive way to run the upcoming election. However I am sure like myself a lot of Kenyan are questioning whether 15 billion shillings for the election is on the high side, given the size of the country. The question that immediately springs to mind regarding the cost of the upcoming election is, “where is the money going to come from?” Parliament’s Budget Office has already projected a shortfall of up to 27 billion shillings in the next budget. It stands to reason that part of the cost of the election process will be loaded on to the taxpayer’s bill.
And if there was any doubt that the tax payer will be footing at least part of the bill for the election, the Parliamentary Budget Office brief to MPs titled “Managing the Transition Budget options for 2012/2013, and the Medium Term” confirms it noting that, “the current mix of tax instruments cannot provide sufficient resources…the new Constitution has resulted in expenditure which has resulted in a bulging budget. There is an increasing pressure on the government to increase tax collection. This translates into an increased burden on the tax payer.”
Being a taxpayer there are of course questions about accountability, transparency and the watching/auditing the election budget. Equally important in such an expensive is ensuring making it count.
What are your thoughts on the expense of the upcoming election?