Approval sought for 2017 poll budget

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ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato (pictured) says the commission has completed its budget for next year’s general election but has declined to release any figures.
He said this last Saturday when giving an update on Electoral Commission preparations for the election.
“We have submitted the budget,” Gamato told The National.
“I cannot disclose any figures, although in previous estimates, there were some figures announced.
“We have submitted, in view of the current economic situation and also in view of the polling schedules a budget but I will not disclose any figures until the (2017) budget us passed (in November) and the figures are released.
“At this stage it’s confidential until passed by Parliament.”
Gamato said all costing for polling around the country had been done.
“All the polling schedules, all information regarding polling and costing, has been done,” he said.
“Everything will be gazetted but we are using the information for planning purposes.
“I will send a copy to police, so police can use it for their security planning.”
Chief Secretary and inter-departmental election committee chairman Isaac Lupari said earlier this year one of his most-pressing tasks was to reduce costs for the 2017 general election after these ballooned to more than K700 million in 2012.
He said there was no reason for election costs to be so high for a relatively-small voting population of only six million.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said earlier this year the cost of conducting elections in the country was very high.
He said this when asked to comment on funding for the 2017 general election, after Gamato said it needed K192 million this year to prepare, but had only been given K10 million.
“A country of eight million people cannot afford to spend over half a billion kina on every election,” he said.
“That is unheard of in the democratic world.
“We need to think of a smarter way to deliver a free and fair election, on time, and all these cost overruns need to stop.”

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