K100m to fund LLG polls

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Local-level government elections will be held in August, it has been confirmed.
Minister for Inter-Government Relations Kevin Isifu said the Government had allocated K100 million for the exercise to be conducted in the 6000-plus wards in the 329 local level governments around the country.
The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, however, will be excluded as it has a different organic law.
The Government has also allocated K72 million to be paid to ward councillors as “outstanding salaries”.
The elections was originally scheduled for July.
Last month, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato doubted whether it would go ahead at all because of the earthquake in February, the ongoing tribal fighting, the current financial situation facing the government, and the preparations for the Apec meetings in November.
But Isifu said that despite the financial challenges facing the country, “the Government will find the money to fund the election operations and settle the councillors’ outstanding salaries”.
“The elections will be held in August and I will announce the revised polling dates after consultation with the commissioner,” he said.
“The Government has budgeted K100 million for the elections. Also, the Government will settle the outstanding salaries of K72 million for the councillors before the elections.”
He said the decision was reached after taking into account the interest of the people.
“LLGs are the governments closest to the people. Therefore, the Government is committed to facilitating the process for the people to elect their leaders,” he said.
“We will find the best possible way to conduct the elections within our financial means.
“After considering the advice of the Electoral Commissioner, the legal opinions and consultation with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, we recognise that it has gone beyond the prescribed time for the conduct of the LLG elections under the Organic Law on Provincial and LLLG elections. We will abide by the law to conduct the elections in 2018.” He also clarified that elected councillors will elect their LLG presidents in their legislative assemblies.
The 2018 LLG elections will be conducted using the Limited Preference Voting system.
He also said that as part of cost-cutting measures, “we will look at options like transferring the responsibilities down to the provincial or the LLG governments to run the LLG elections”.
“The Electoral Commission will only supervise and monitor the elections. This is one option so we look at as the best possible way to run the LLG elections.”
He said it was the system used before – the LLGs conducting the elections and then informing the Electoral Commission of the results.