Good procurement processes reduced 2020 elections cost — EC

BY: Albert K. Salia
Dr Bossman Eric Asare — Deputy Chairman  of the EC in charge of Corporate Services
Dr Bossman Eric Asare — Deputy Chairman of the EC in charge of Corporate Services

The Electoral Commission (EC) has explained that open-competitive tendering and best procurement processes led to a reduction in the cost per voter in the 2020 elections.

Those processes, it explained, opened up for other companies to bid for the various components of procuring materials for the 2020 elections.

It said with the exception of the printing of ballot papers and the procurement of indelible ink and biometric devices which had security implications, all other forms of procurement were done openly through the newspapers.

While it cost GH¢75.57 ($13) per voter in the 2016 elections, the EC spent GH¢44.66 ($7.7) per voter in last year’s elections.

That made the commission make total savings of GH¢523,409,980 or $90,243,100.

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Throwing more light on the cost reduction in an interview, the Deputy Commissioner of the EC in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, told the Daily Graphic that the reduction in the cost per voter was exactly 40.78 per cent.

That, he said, was against the backdrop of the 2020 mass voters registration exercise and the creation of 10,000 additional polling stations to reduce congestion at polling stations in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that the creation of 10,000 additional polling stations also led to the recruitment of more personnel.

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Early procurement

Mr Asare said the EC started the procurement process very early in 2020, and that almost all the items required for the elections, with the exception of the extremely sensitive materials, were procured through open competitive tender.

He said the advertisements placed in the newspapers encouraged many people to apply.

 “Through this open, transparent process, the commission attracted largely new suppliers, who quoted prices that were both competitive and far lower than the previously dominant procurement approaches of single-sourcing and selective tendering,” he added.

Dr Asare said apart from conducting market surveys to get market prices, a number of tender evaluation committees were set up to evaluate each tender before selection was made.

Beyond that, he said, the EC held further discussions with the winners to beat down the prices.

According to him, the items procured met the quality standards required for the elections.

“In all these, if the amount spent on the COVID-19 is controlled, then the cost per voter would be less than $7,” he added.

He said it was the expectation of the commission that, with more proper planning and prudent management, it would be able to reduce the cost of elections more than what happened in 2020.

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Dr Asare said with the COVID-19 pandemic, the EC also had to procure all the facilities required to ensure the safety of not only its personnel but also all the stakeholders, expecially the voters.

Some of those items, he explained, were Veronica buckets, thermometer guns, sanitiser, disposable and reusable face masks, face shields, paint for the demarcation of the ground to ensure physical distancing and liquid soap, adding that but for the COVID-19, those items would not have been needed for the elections.

Beyond the acquisition of the items, he said, the EC also engaged community health nurses to administer thermometer guns at an additional cost and appointed  COVID-19 ambassadors for the over 38,000 polling stations and 300 special voting stations used for the elections.

Dr Asare explained that because of disruptions in the global supply chain in 2020, the EC paid additional money for the airlifting of offshore election materials such as indelible ink and laminates.