K36 million owed by Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission has a total outstanding cost of K36 million from the 2012 National General Elections.

These outstanding claims have not been settled over the last five years and are now affecting polling in some areas around the country.

Polling in Telefomin in the Sandaun province, and South and Central Bougainville in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, have been disrupted due to outstanding claims.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato could not give specifics of outstanding claims for each province but said according to the Commission’s records, K17 million is owned to the general service providers.

He said K42 million was the outstanding bill for lawyers. This was for election petition cases filed in the National Courts of Disputed Returns.

“We had to send the bills to the department of Justice and Attorney General for vetting, they’ve vetted the claims and brought it down to about K19 million,” Gamato added.

He is now appealing to service providers to understand the situation in the country and allow polls to go ahead as scheduled.

“Outstanding claims will become an issue and will become a risk to us as we go but I’m appealing to those service providers to understand us and allow us to conduct the election.

“When the government makes funds available then we can sort out the outstanding bills,” Gamato added.

Sally Pokiton