IEBC projects Sh14bn BBI referendum budget

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) projects to spend Sh14 billion if Parliament endorses a proposal by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments.

Acting chief executive Murjan Hussein Murjan, however, told Parliament last evening that the amount would depend on the number of new voter registrations before the vote.

“We have on our own sat down and asked ourselves the budgetary requirements in the event of a possible referendum.

“We have already estimated that the referendum to change the Constitution will cost us Sh14 billion. However, we are still refining the budget,” he told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the scrutiny of the commissions’ books of accounts for the year to June 2019.

Mr Murjan said the Sh14 billion budget is based on 19.6 million voters that registered for the 2017 General Election.

“The budget could go up because of the number of registered voters who will, in turn, determine the number of polling stations, polling staff to be hired and other logistics,” he said in response to PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale pushed Mr Murjan to state on the record the cost of the anticipated referendum.

Mr Murjan said the referendum budget could also be determined by several things that have not completed including the passage of a Referendum Bill.

The IEBC official told the PAC that the commission had submitted its medium-term expenditure framework to the Treasury as it prepares for the 2022 General Election and an eventuality of a referendum.

The country is gearing up towards implementation of the BBI report that proposes to change the structure of government, which require a referendum to approve.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga on Monday launched the BBI report that contains far-reaching recommendations that include the creation of the office of Prime Minister and two deputies.

It recommends the establishment of a position of the office of Leader of the Opposition complete with a shadow cabinet to cater for the loser in the presidential poll.

The report also proposes that Cabinet ministers be appointed from elected MPs and technocrats. It increases allocations to counties to 35 per cent up from the current 15 per cent of revenues raised nationally.

The launch of the report at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi set the stage for a national referendum, just two years before the for the 2022 General Election.

The Constitution stipulates that a proposed amendment to supreme law shall be enacted by a referendum, if the changes relate to amendments relates to functions of Parliament, among others.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga pushed for a referendum to approve changes to the Constitution before the 2022 General Elections during the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kisii County.

Mr Kenyatta argues the changes would entrench political inclusion, equity in the distribution of opportunities and resources, and end violence every electoral cycle.

The President said it would be disastrous to face another election without reforms.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga say changes to expand the Executive will help the country tame the winner-takes it all approach that is to blame for perennial violence after every electioneering period.

The Hybrid system of government borrows from the Presidential and Parliamentary systems.

The two “Handshake” partners have maintained that the expanded Executive will help end the cut-throat competition for the presidency and other elective political seats.

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