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NewsElection Board proposes seven billion birr budget for next year

Election Board proposes seven billion birr budget for next year

It plans to hold local election across Ethiopia

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) proposed a 6.94 billion birr budget for the next fiscal year, even though the Ministry of Finance is cutting budget allocations to various government offices by up to 40 percent.

The proposed budget is higher than the 2.57 billion birr approved for the sixth general elections held in 2019/20, the 64.7 million birr ordinary budget and the 1.8 billion birr UN election fund.

The board’s request for the 2020/21 fiscal year was 192.8 million birr.

In the proposed budget to the House of People’s Representatives (HPR), the board expects to receive 6.02 billion birr from the federal government and 918.4 million birr from partners.

“A large portion of the budget will go to local elections which we intend to hold in the coming fiscal year. That is why the budget is so large,” a senior communications officer told The Reporter.

On April 30, 2022, while presenting the report of the sixth general election to the HPRs’ Legal, Justice, and Democracy Affairs Standing Committee, the NEBE’s Chairperson, Birtukan Mideksa, said that holding local elections would cost twice as much in terms of budget and human resources compared to the sixth election.

The board spent more than one billion birr on polling officers alone in the general election.

“Local elections will be held at a lower administrative level with a large number of members. As a result, we are unable to conduct local elections with the same capacity of workforce that we used in the general election,” Birukan told the Committee.

The local election will be held at 56,373 polling stations, with voters’ turnout of an estimated 44.4 million people. The vote will be held in 847 woredas, 172 towns, 11 sub-cities, 75 zones, and one nationality’s council, according to NEBE’s plan. This is excluding Tigray Region, where there was no national election last year.

Kebeles have been barred from running in next year’s local elections by the NEBE.

Local elections, unlike general elections, will be governed by the laws of the regions and city administrations. Regions and cities determine the level at which councils are established and the number of council members they will have.

“Based on our assessment of the current situation, we will need to deploy twice as much man power to hold this election,” Birtukan told the Committee.

The Board is currently conducting research to determine the most efficient and cost-effective ways to hold the elections. After the study was completed, the board intends to present it to the regional governments and seek their approval, according to Birtukan.

“But for the time being, because we need to submit our budget, we will present it to you in its current form and will modify it when we finish. We have already requested permission from the Speaker’s secretariat office for the change,” Birtukan said in a meeting held in April.

When the board presented its proposed budget to the HPRs Planning, Budget, and Financial Affairs Standing Committee last week, the committee advised the board to plan the budget in light of current circumstances.

Desalegn Wedaje, chairperson of the standing committee, told the board that the standing committee will compare the proposed budget to last year’s budget before deciding and submit it to the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance, which has been hearing budget proposals from federal government institutions, has advised it to reduce their proposed budget for the coming year due to budgetary constraints.

However, with the exception of a few institutions, the majority of proposed budgets were above the given threshold.

The council of minister has already approved a total budget of 785.61 billion birr for the upcoming fiscal year, with 12.7 percent allocated to the country’s defense budget. The bill has been already forwarded to the parliament for an approval.

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