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Mozambican NGO, the Centre for Investigation and Research (CIP), believes that the budget for this year’s presidential elections is excessive, and no good reason has been adduced to explain the exponential increase in the costs of the electoral process.
On 14 February, the National Elections Commission (CNE) convened the press to inform that the government is looking for partners to finance the sixth general elections in October this year, which will include, for the first time, the election of provincial governors. At the time – eight months before the election – the government had available 6.5 billion meticais, equivalent to 44 percent of the 14.6 billion meticais needed for the entire process.
The CIP however says that the combined presidential, legislative and provincial assemblies elections will not cost that much, and the significant increase in the amount budgeted in 2019 compared to 2014 cannot be explained in terms of economic variables such as inflation, the exchange rate and the increase in the number of voters.
These factors alone are not enough to explain the exponential increase in the costs of this year’s electoral process, the CIP says. From a logistical point of view, for example, the election of provincial governors does not justify any increase in expense.
The amount that the CNE had available (6.5 billion meticais) is, coincidentally, the amount which approximately corresponds to the estimated cost of voter registration, voting and supervision.
For the present elections the modality of financing by the partners is much more difficult, for two reasons.
First, the deficit is 56%, which is more than half of the amount necessary to finance the elections in all its phases. Second, the “hidden debts” situation has reduced confidence in the country, making it difficult to source financial assistance. This implies that the country will have to find alternatives to make up the deficit, possibly including revenue from capital gains or internal borrowing.
Spending on general elections in Mozambique has nearly doubled over the last three electoral cycles.
The 2014 elections cost 2.4 billion meticais. This year’s election was initially budgeted at 6.5 billion meticais, an amount already above trend, and almost triple the cost of the 2014 elections. The CNE’s latest figure of 14.6 billion meticais represents a 508% increase on the 2014 figure.
This means that in 2014 the cost per voter was approximately 200 meticais and in 2019 the same cost seems to be around 1000 meticais, that is, each voter costs 5 times more in 2019 than in 2014.
Inflation is another element that could justify, in part, the increase in election expenses, but offers dramatic weight as an explanatory factor for the huge increase in expenses for the 2019 elections.
Another additional element that could serve as justification is the number of voters.
By 2014, 12.2 million potential voters were planned for the whole country. By 2019, an increase is estimated with 14.1 million potential voters. Therefore, the growth of the number of potential voters only has a 15.36% effect on the increase in expenses for the 2019 elections, a very low threshold to justify the increase of the budget for the elections.
In this case, the CIP recommends that the justification for the electoral process and its costs be made public in detail.
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