By the end of the current financial year on March 30, the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) should be ready to stage the next general election.
This indication from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today as he sought and received a supplementary vote in Parliament for $591,067 to assist the commission with its preparations for the highly anticipated poll, which is constitutionally due by the middle of next year.
Addressing the final sitting of Parliament for 2017, Stuart explained that the budget allocated to the EBC for the 2017/2018 financial year was $1.9 million.
However, with general elections now around the corner, he said a review of the EBC’s expenditures as at August 31 this year and projections for the period September 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, showed that the additional sum of $591,067 was now required.
“All of these expenditures are related to the fact that in a few months time, certainly up to the end of the financial year, preparation will have to be made for an upcoming general election and the department has to be properly positioned to do all those things that are necessary to ensure that our election machinery is properly oiled and smoothly functioning so that we can go through that process as we have done so successfully from the time universal adult suffrage was introduced in Barbados in 1951,” the Prime Minister said in his contribution to the debate on the supplementary resolution in which he sought to suggest that the next poll could go down to the wire.
In detailing exactly how the requested half million dollars would be spent, the St Michael South Member of Parliament said $9,293 would go towards the payment of National Insurance for the additional staff members; $1,950 for the rental of two scanners for three months to complete scanning of national registration cards and $117,881 for the purchase of supplies and materials, including printer ink, surge protectors, cameras “and other peripherals used in registration equipment”.
Stuart also said $173,639 would go towards other operating expenses; $197,644 towards the purchase of computer software and $90,660 towards the payment of the temporary workers, including one senior executive officer, ten clerical officers and two clerk typists.
“Of those 13 temporary posts, five of the clerical officer posts were filled in September and as a result an estimated sum of will be required to supplement this vote for expenditures to be incurred form September 1 to March 31, 2018,” he said.