We have followed discussion surrounding the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC), to charge GH¢50,000 and GH¢10,000 as nomination filing fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates respectively.
The decision has received mixed reactions as some have labeled it as excessive while others think that the EC is justified in pegging the fees at the rate as announced.
It is important to note that in 2012, parliamentary candidates paid GH¢1,000 while the presidential nominees paid GH¢10,000.
This year’s filing fees have no doubt been substantially increased, and in the case of the presidential candidates, it is up to about 5,000 per cent.
The EC might have reasons for increasing the fee to the levels it did, and might have taken into consideration various factors to arrive at the current fees.
While some have justified it and argued that it is an incentive for parties to work hard as any presidential candidate that attains 25 per cent in the polls and parliamentary candidate who earns 12 per cent would get a refund, others think that the fees are excessively high.
We are fully aware that the EC has the mandate to fix the fees and conscious of the fact that the monies are deposits which could be refunded based on the performance of the candidates, we nonetheless are of the view that the fees must be reviewed.
Our argument is purely based on the fact that the percentage increase from the 2012 fees appears massive and cannot be justified on economic conditions prevailing in the country.
If we should go by the trend of increasing the fees in every election year, and going by the percentage increase this year, then in 2020, the filing fee might increase to a million cedis for presidential candidates.
It would be ridiculous to continue to increase the fees each election year which would eventually put the fees beyond the reach of the candidates.
It is essential for the EC to consider the filing fees in conformity with the prevailing economic conditions and the financial strength of the parties.
We are concerned that if these conditions are not considered in fixing the fees, the EC may be pricing the fees out of the reach of the candidates.
We appeal to the EC to review the fees downwards so as to give every candidate a fair chance of participating in the 2016 general elections.