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PNGEC Gamato expresses concern over the removal of election funds to fund Tuition Fees

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has expressed grave concern that a total of K20 million of election funds has been removed from Electoral Commission’s account and diverted to fund the government’s free education policy.
A total of K40 million in election funds was released by the Finance Department last week to PNGEC’s account but only K20 million was uploaded while the other K20 million was removed.
He said the K20 million removed was money earmarked for the purchase of big ticket items such as ballot boxes, security plastic seals, indelible ink, voting compartments, stationary and T’shirts for polling and counting officials.
“If the government is serious about appropriately funding PNGEC to deliver a good election that is free, fair, safe and inclusive then it must release and upload election funds in a timely manner,” Gamato said.
Commissioner Gamato raised the concerned in the light of the fact the a number of provinces have yet to pay allowances for their enrolment agents and wages for data processing officers at the provincial data processing centers nationwide.
“PNGEC has yet to settle the allowances for enrolment agents and wages for data processing officers entering elector data in the provincial data centers totaling over K7 million.”
“Outstanding allowances for enrolment agents yet to be paid by the Commission stand at K7 million while wages for data processing offices stand at K70,000.”
“Non-payment of allowances and wages dating back to 2016 has resulted in electoral roll update work being affected or stopped,” a very concern Gamato said.
He said provinces affected include Morobe, East Sepik, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, Enga, West Sepik, Madang, Southern Highlands, Bougainville, Gulf and Western.
“I call on the government to release and upload Electoral Commission funds quickly so that we can pay our service providers.”
Meanwhile, on the issue of ballot papers Mr. Gamato said that all the 10 million ballot papers for the provincial seats and open seats will be unpacked in Port Moresby and repacked according to enrolment figures for each electorate before they are dispatched.
He was responding to questions by the Vice Minister for Mining Wera Mori last week in Parliament as to whether the Electoral Commission would unpack and check all the ballot papers before dispatching them when they arrive from Indonesia.
Mr. Gamato pointed out that ballot papers for the past eight elections have always been unpacked and repacked according to the number of voters on the electoral roll in each electorate and the Commission will do exactly the same in 2017.
“The ballot papers will be handled under tight security because they are very sensitive election materials.”
“All the ballot papers will be delivered to all the 22 provinces two weeks in advance before the commencement of polling on June 24,” he said.
On the issue of new date for the issue of election writs, Mr. Gamato said he will announce the revised and final date by the end of this week after he advises the Governor General of the new date.
Section 79(2) of Election Law gives the powers to the Electoral Commissioner to either reduce or increase the campaign period depending on the circumstances that may arise.
The maximum campaign period allowed by Law is 12 weeks and minimum is 8
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