The current nomination fee is K1,000, and the O’Neill – Dion Government will certainly make amendment to the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections (OLPLLG) in the March sitting before heading to the polls.
O’Neill in the second reading of the proposed legislative amendment, to change K1,000 to K10,000 on OLPLLG got an absolute majority vote 75- 14 despite shouting by the Opposition bench for more debates in Parliament on Wednesday.
“The increase was necessary and will only encourage serious candidates stand for elections,” O’Neill said.
He added that the cost of running an election in the country is very expensive and the increase in fees charged will help the PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) raise revenue to support its operations.
The prime minister said over 4,000 candidates are expected to contest for the 111 seats in Parliament, and the National Government had budgeted K350 million to run the 2017 National Elections, despite been requested for over K500 million by the PNGEC.
Also the legislative changes if passed in the last term of the 9th Parliament sitting will see an increase of election petition fees from K5,000 to K20,000, and also deferment of the Local Level Government elections by 12 months.
Opposition Leader Don Polye was the only member of the alternative government to debate the proposed election law change and said this government action contradicted the spirit of the country’s Constitution.
Polye said the Constitution gives equal rights to all Papua New Guineans to contest the election and is in the true spirit of democracy.
He said lack of funding to run the elections is not a good excuse, because the government should have prioritised funding to run the election in the last couple of years, not mismanaging the economy.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, John Simon said the vote for the amendment to change the law will happen in two months’ time on the date of the reading and the government must muster 71 votes, which is two third of the majority to make it legal.
(Picture by Kennedy Bani)