Time is running out: EC

National

By MALUM NALU
ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato says “time is against us” as officers try to complete the updating of the national roll before next April.
The writs for the 2017 general election will be issued on April 20. Gamato had asked the Government for K192 million for the roll-updating exercise but so far had been allocated only K40 million.
Gamato told The National that K10 million was allocated earlier this year and K30 million in the supplementary budget approved by Parliament last month.
“I know time is against us,” Gamato said.
“We are pressed for time but that’s simply because Government released funds a bit late. We will do our best.”
He has instructed staff at the commission to work through the Christmas-New Year period to complete the work.
“Our officers are committed. I’ve instructed the officers to work during the break so that we can have all the data in. That is our priority for this year.”
He said there would have been less pressure if the Government had “given us the money a bit earlier, around March or April, when I was asking for funds to do the roll updating”.
“We would have (then) completed the roll-updating process by the end of this year. The Government has just released the funds so we will do our best to update the roll,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure we can have most of the work completed by December, and if there is any need, flow on to January.
“If we run short of money, we’ll go back and ask Government. It’s in the interest of Government to support us so that we can complete the job properly.”
Gamato said the training of election managers and their assistants was conducted in Lae last month.
They would in turn train enrolment agents. “I’ve released some funds to the provinces,” Gamato said.
“We hope to complete all the training by the end of this month or first week of next month.
“Once the trainings are done, the officers will then go and start enrolling people.”

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