$157.7 Million Price Tag Reported For PNG Elections

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Majority of funds allocated to electoral commission

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 10, 2012) – The 2012 National General Election has cost the Papua New Guinea Government a ‘whopping’ K330.5 million [US$157.7 million].

But that money is reportedly not enough as allocations for each institution has been below the proposed budget.

However, Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen clarified that the funding was sufficient but was released late.

"That’s why we did not purchase electronic equipment on time therefore resulting in counting done manually," Mr. Trawen said.

About K240 million [US$114.5 million] of this K330.5 million funding was allocated solely for the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission (PNGEC) while the remaining K90 million was spread among the security force operations – PNG Defence Force K12 million, Correctional Service K9.5 million and there was a top-up to the Police election operation budget of K100 million.

The Government released the first K180 million late in 2010 while the remaining K60 million was released just before elections this year.

Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga last night told the Post-Courier that they had initially put in a proposal for K125 million for the security operations of the election.

Police was given K100 million, but also urgently needed the K25 million to complete all operational costs until a new Government was formed.

Mr. Kulunga said he had been knocking on the doors of Treasury and Finance offices for that K25 million but to no avail.

For PNGEC, the total budget allocation of K240 million has been sufficient to run the elections, however, it needed more funding to prepare for any other "incidentals" like lawsuits.

This funding exceeds the level of assistance, financial and technical, by the Australian and New Zealand Governments. Australia and New Zealand reportedly have spent millions in assisting the 2012 National Election in PNG.

Australia spent millions in training, logistics and even the provisions for their security officers to assist in the pre-election period, specifically the Australian Royal Defence Force.

The New Zealand Government has also done the same, but specifically in the area of logistics.

The Government of the United States of America has also spent so much as they had also funded the East West Centre observers. The United Kingdom and its Government also assisted the PNG Government with more than K500,000 to fund the media centre that is now being used by the PNG media and PNGEC.

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