The General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Johnson Asiedu Nketia has questioned the rationale behind the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to charge GH¢100,000 as filing fee towards the upcoming December polls.
According to him, all the reasons being given by the EC are unfounded and thus asked the EC for further explanation on the purpose and use of the funds.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express he asked: “Is the deposit supposed to be a contribution towards the funding of the elections? Or it is supposed to be a deterrent to prevent people who are otherwise not serious candidates from contesting? Or what is the purpose?”
He added that it was difficult to make a proper judgment as to the basis of the quoted amount since “the commission has not been able to explain sufficiently the purpose of this deposit”.
The Electoral Commission has explained that the funds being contributed by the political parties in the form of filing fees are to be used to support the election process come December 2020.
An assertion the NDC General Secretary has vehemently opposed.
He refused to accept the explanation that “the deposit is supposed to go towards funding the course of the election because the constitution is very clear that expenses the electoral commission and others accrue is supposed to be charged directly on the consolidated fund”.
“And so there is no provision anywhere which says that the commission’s activities ought to be funded by deposits of candidates. So that argument is not valid,” he stated emphatically.
According to him, the constitution fully spells out how and where the EC can fund their activities and those avenues for funding do not include political parties.
Asiedu Nketiah explained that unlike political parties who charge exorbitant fees as a means to pay for their internal electioneering processes, the EC has the consolidated fund to fall on.
“At least we know that when political parties are fixing their filing fees, the purpose of the filing fees is to partly raise money to defray the cost of holding the elections itself, otherwise the activity cannot happen,” he said.
The NDC General Secretary bemoaned the negative impact of such exorbitant filing fees on the nation’s democracy as a whole.
He referred to several research findings that have concluded that the cost of politicking in Ghana is on the rise, which effectively threatens our democracy and contributes to the country’s challenge with corruption.
“If you’re going to put people in office and the process of getting into that office is so expensive that the salaries of elected officials cannot be expected to reasonably defray the cost of getting into that office, then it is obvious that the elected person would have to look elsewhere to defray the cost,” he added.
He also revealed that political parties have in the past implored the state to provide some form of subsidy to the political parties to help reduce the cost of individual party activities.
“And also it is no news that political parties have been arguing for some state funding so that politicking becomes less expensive in the country. So far we don’t seem to have gotten any part-funding or subsidy or anything. So parties are left to their own design as to how to raise funds to conduct their internal activities,” he stated.