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More $$ for EBC in election year
The Election and Boundaries Commission’s estimates of recurrent expenditure for the 2015 general election year totals $164.3 million, an increase over its 2013 and 2014 figures. The information is contained in the draft estimates of recurrent expenditure for 2014-2015, one of several documents accompanying the budget statement. The EBC estimates list the 2015 figure as $70.4 million more than the 2014 figure of $93.8 million and even more than the 2013 figure of $55.8 million.
The estimates include $5 million for election expenses for 2015 (including salaries and other payments for staff) and other election expenses for infrastructure and equipment, estimated at $47.8 million. Under development programme estimates, the EBC is also listed for $12 million for modernising ID card-issuing systems and upgrading electronic voter registration and electronic management systems.
Yesterday EBC CEO Ramesh Nanan said EBC officials had mentioned increases for the commission yesterday but he had not yet seen the budget documents. He said: “We would have expected to have received an increase in light of all the proposed amendments recently and also in view of all the election activity expected ahead (in 2015).
“We had prepared a draft estimate for the Finance Ministry and that would involve an increase from our budget of this year (2014), since there were no elections this year.”
Under the draft estimates for development in other areas, $15 million is earmarked under National Security for a new item involving specialised equipment for the Regiment. No details were given. An estimated $170 million is listed for another new item, the acquisition of a Santa Rosa property for a “pre-release centre and/or functional prison”, plus $10 million to improve/refurbish the property. A $2 million allocation is also listed for a new item, a prison at Hope in Tobago.
Some $10 million is earmarked each to go towards the restoration of President’s House and Mille Fleurs, also new projects; $50 million to continue the Red House restoration and $300 million to rehabilitate the Hall of Justice. An estimated $4 million is listed for next year to start construction of a building on the former NBN site, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.
Under development, $50 million is also listed for industrial development support at Invaders Bay as a new project, $13 million for phase two of the Chaguaramas boardwalk and $30 million for the first phase of the Maracas Bay upgrade. Development funding also includes $300 million for an accelerated housing programme, $56 million for coastal erosion alleviation/protection and $20 million for local government entities to implement necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of the Dog Control Act.
Initiation of T&T cultural institutes in China and Nigeria is being done in a $1 million first phase.
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