PNG Prime Minister Proposes Massive Fee Increase For Election Candidates

Hiking nomination fee by ten times 'to help fund "expensive" exercise'

By Helen Tarawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 3, 2016) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says a proposed increase in the nomination fee from K1000 [US$309] to K10,000 [US$3,090] for next year’s  general election candidates is to help fund the ‘expensive’ exercise.

O’Neill told Parliament yesterday that the proposal came up after consultations with many members of parliament and national leaders.

O’Neill said the general election was a very important exercise which gave the people, once every five years, the opportunity to elect their leaders through a transparent and fair process.

He said the nomination fee was last increased more than 20 years ago when the number of candidates was much smaller.

It is expected that more than 4,000 candidates will contest the 111 seats in 2017.

“This is a substantial increase in the number of candidates and the cost of running the election is very expensive,” he said.

“It is noticeable that in the last three or four elections, every election is costing more and more because the number of candidates is increasing and the election commission is required to print ever ballot paper with every photo so that every candidate is included.

“As a result, it a very costly exercise. So it is certainly warranted that there must be some increase in the cost of running the elections.

“And that cost must be shared by everyone. I think it’s only fair that it’s not only paid by the public but by the candidates as well.”

O’Neill told parliament said it had also been suggested that the campaign period be reduced from eight to four weeks.

“This will be helpful to taxpayers and the candidates because it will be cheaper and costs would be reduced,” he said.

“We have allocated K400 million in the 2017 budget but we anticipate there might be some cost overruns which we all need to pay – including the candidates.”

He was responding to Central Governor Kila Haoda Haoda who had asked in Parliament whether the nomination fee would be increased, and when the ward elections would be held.

O’Neill said Cabinet had recommended that the local level government elections be deferred to 2018 to allow ward councilors and presidents to serve their full five-year terms.

“It is important that we separate the two elections so that people can focus on the election in 2017 (to pick their MPs and governors only),” he said.

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