The National, Friday 17th May 2013
ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen has described as “childish” the refusal by the Western Highlands provincial government to co-fund the local level government elections.
“So far most provinces have signed their 2013 LLG elections memorandum of agreement with the Commission and have allocated funding,” he said.
“It is sad and disappointing that the Western Highlands provincial government declined to provide counterpart funding.
“This is childish as most other provinces have agreed to this arrangement while others have given direct positive indication.
“LLG elections will see the direct election of council presidents who will be members of respective provincial assemblies and the needs the support of provincial governments to partner with the Electoral Commission to implement the programme.”
Western Highlands acting provincial administrator Joseph Neng wrote to Trawen on April 22 to say he was forced not to sign the agreement because the WHP provincial government had a very tight budget and that cost-sharing for the 2013 LLG elections was never discussed with the provincial government.
Trawen said the commission’s estimated budget for the LLG elections was K80 million but the government only appropriated K50 million.
He added that the commission would “certainly overspend hence requested the co-operation of the provincial administrations”.
“Provincial governments must take ownership of the LLG elections as the commission is only facilitating the election process,” he said.
“This is what provincial governments must know and understand and chip in with counter funding of the elections.”
Trawen said provinces which had signed the memorandum of agreement with the commission and had allocated funding include Central, Milne Bay, Northern, Gulf, Manus, New Ireland, Chimbu and East Sepik.
He said all provinces in the Southern region had signed except Western, which would do so on May 22.
In the New Guinea Islands region, only New Ireland had yet to sign while in the Mamose region, Madang, Morobe and West Sepik had yet to sign.