The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation and former Senior Governance Adviser to the United Nations (UN), Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, has proposed a one per cent levy on alcoholic beverages to raise enough funds for the operations of the Electoral Commission (EC).
Prof. Agyeman-Duah, who is also a co-Founder and former Associate Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), said donor funds continued to dwindle following Ghana’s progressive maturity in democracy, hence the need to look for alternatives to fund the EC, as well as civil society roles in elections.
Bulk of EC budget
Although the bulk of the EC budget was funded by the government, donor partners continued to support the operations of the commission, he said, adding, “Given that successful elections are so crucial to our development and stability, we cannot afford to even continue to rely on foreign charity for their sustenance.”
He, therefore, proposed one half or one per cent taxation on alcoholic beverages to raise enough funds for the EC to run elections, as well as for civil society to play its role in elections.
Donor partners in March this year hinted of stopping support for electoral activities in the country. They said Ghana had been classified as a middle-income country which had matured in its democracy in Africa and would not need that kind of funding.
According to Star-Ghana, a donor-pooled funding mechanism that supports election activities, its programme would come to an end by 2020.
Prof. Agyeman-Duah made the proposal at the launch of the 2016 election engagement reports by Forum for Actions On Inclusion, Transparency and Harmony (FAITH), an initiative of the National Catholic Secretariat, in Accra yesterday.
Two reports dubbed “Report on the role of an inter-faith platform in the 2016 election in Ghana” and the “Report on the lessons learnt and best practices from an inter-faith cooperation for the 2016 election” were launched.
FAITH is a platform made up of diverse religious groups that cooperated and worked together to promote social cohesion before, during and after the 2016 general election, funded by Star-Ghana.
In view of the new wave of technology that has the capacity to compromise the integrity of elections, Prof. Agyeman-Duah said Ghana needed to begin to make plans to secure elections in the future.
He observed that the threat of technology, particularly hacking, was a challenge which could jeopardise the country’s electoral democracy if it failed to act proactively.
He recalled the allegations of electronic tampering of the results in the December 2012 general election, as well as that of December 2016, saying: “In the last December election, the EC had the cause to halt the processing of results, suspecting that it had been compromised.”
“The threat of technology to election is real, and we have to begin to plan for the looming future when anyone can stay in the comfort of their bedroom and subvert the democratic will of the people,” he added.
Prof. Agyeman-Duah cited the allegations of the Russian electronic interventions in the United States (US) 2016 election, which is currently being investigated, adding that civil society organisations also needed to find new methods and approaches to observing elections.
While commending the work of the interfaith, the CEO urged the Catholic Secretariat to bring together the convening power and the various technical, legal and technocratic skills of civil society organisations, as well as faith-based organisations in order to maximise their impact.
Launching the reports, the Chairman of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, commended the role of the faith-based organisations in the 2016 election, saying: “They played a critical role in the election.”
Touching on the assertions that the declaration of the 2016 presidential results delayed, she said the commission followed the legal procedures governing the elections, adding that the commission declared the outcome of the election within the time frame of 48-72 hours.
In his address, the FAITH Project Manager, Mr Samuel Zan Akologo, said in the last 15 months, the group came together to promote social cohesion before, during and after the 2016 general election.
The organisations are National Catholic Secretariat, Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission Ghana, Office of the National Chief Imam, Christian Mothers Association, Federation of Muslim Women’s Association, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Caritas Ghana and Marshallan Relief and Development Services.
He said the platform could continue its work to promote public policy advocacy and dialogue.
Reviewing the reports, he said the platform achieved its goal by contributing to guaranteeing that all political parties accepted the outcome of the 2016 election results, saying: “This feat was made possible as a result of effective, well-organised and credible civic infrastructure which are underpinned by faith.
The Programme Director of STAR-Ghana, Mr Ibrahim Tanko-Amidu, said there was the need to move from good elections to good governance, adding, “We need to leverage on the good elections and translate it into inclusive and good governance.”