‘Govt must pay K460mil’

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THE Government will have to offset the full K460 million for General Election 2022 (GE22) because it’s a fixed budget, PNG Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai says.
Sinai told The National that the Government was obliged to pay for the operation of GE22 budget.
“If they don’t pay then we will fail this programme, it’s going to have some impact,” he said.
“It’s an intensified, concentrated work and we want to deliver the GE22.
“It’s a fixed budget, a budget that is already programmed and projected based on activities.”
Sinai added that the delay in the preparation for GE22 was also to do with funds not being made available on time.
Sinai said due to the timing allowed, issues with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and also the financial system that funding had been late.
“Those are things we needed to comply with.
“As an organisation, we want to deliver the election but supporting agents – I have to force them to do the job.
“We cannot draw conclusion to say there is a failed election, we are trying our best to do as much as we can with available resources and time and the people are ready, it’s the time period.” Meanwhile, Sinai said venue hire for
National Capital District (NCD) had been sorted and polling will start today.
Polling in NCD was rescheduled to today due to training and counting venues not being secured on time.
Sinai urged everyone to take ownership of the elections at this short period of time.
“People might think otherwise but let’s see how best we can do,” he said.
“I have done my bit, now I have trust and belief that you are going to deliver accordingly.”

Popondetta electorate goes to polls

Polling in the new Popondetta Open electorate in Northern started on Monday while the other electorates were delayed by a day due to logistical issues, an official says.
Assistant returning officer for Popondetta Urban Joe Kadi told The National that the polling teams for the Ijivitari and Sohe had shifted their materials on Monday.
Kadi said polling for the Kokoda local level government (LLG) and Higaturu LLG had also started on Monday while the other areas including Tufi, Afore and Safia in
Ijivitari had started yesterday and some were expected to start by today.
“Most of our teams have travelled out on Monday and would have started polling by Tuesday and today,” he said.
“We are anticipating to complete polling by July 11 and counting will start right away.”
Kadi said the biggest concern for polling was the people without names on the common roll.
“It was unfortunate because some senior presidents and leaders in the communities who voted in 2017 could not vote this time,” he said.
Kadi explained that even with the introduction of the new electorate, most people were able to vote.

Manning says police investigating K1.3mil found on company director

POLICE Commissioner David Manning says an investigation is underway into the discovery of K1.3 million in cash found in the possession of a company director in Komo, Hela, over the weekend.
Manning said the incident was being investigated following normal police procedure.
He said there were serious allegations against four or five suspects.
He said while the facts were being determined in the investigation, he would not comment on the case.
Manning was in Hela for polling operations and spoke to the media at the Tari Police Station yesterday.
He said in terms of security concerns, there were a couple of incidents on Monday relating to ballot box integrity which the polling officials had reported to the provincial returning officer for appropriate action.
Manning acknowledged the efforts of the Quick Response Force (QRF) for intervening in the matter and ensuring proper police procedure was followed.
“We anticipated major security challenges in Hela but so far there have only been isolated incidents but not something we have experienced in the past such as open violent clashes,” he said.
“This time around we were satisfied with the outcome of the polling.
“I think there is a level of maturity in the way people conduct themselves in election.”
He said security personnel started operations before midday on Monday and supported polling teams in the province. Manning said polling teams that travelled to their designated areas by air were supported by security personnel.
Manning said police had also been required to assist polling staff with logistical support as the Electoral Commission’s provisions were inadequate.
He said the Electoral Commission needed to be better prepared but police would do its best to help.