Hike in poll fees

National

By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK

CABINET has approved the increase in nomination fees for candidates contesting next year’s general election from K1000 to K10,000, according to Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.
The new fee is for both the regional and open seats.
Candidates vying for the local level government ward council seats will also pay more – K1000 instead of K200 charged during the 2013 LLG elections.
The increase in the fees plus other changes to the organic law on national elections are currently being drafted.
The first reading in Parliament is scheduled for January 24, with the second reading – and passing – in the March sitting.
Gamato announced the changes on a National Broadcasting Corporation radio morning programme on Wednesday.
He said the increase in fees was due to the hike in the cost of living and operation costs.
Gamato said it would deter “non-genuine” candidates from contesting who, in the past, often forced the split of votes for “genuine” candidates.
He said it would also stop scrutineers from unnecessary intervention and disturbance during the counting process.
“There are scrutinisers in the disguise of these candidates who come and raise unnecessary issues and interfere with the PNGEC officers,” he said.
“The election process is a very important process and people must respect it.”
Gamato had recommended to Cabinet (National Executive Council) to increase the fees because the last increase – from K100 to K1000 – was done 20 years ago.
Gamato said some candidates had been using the low K1000 fee to nominate other candidates in order to spilt votes.

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