PNG byelection officers protest over unpaid work – told ‘wait, no funds’

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The unpaid protesters include policemen engaged in security operations, officers involved in the polling and counting, presiding officers and those who provided hire vehicles and catering services for the Moresby North-West byelection last month. Image: The National

By Clifford Faiparik in Port Moresby

Angry policemen, election officials and others involved in Papua New Guinea’s Moresby North-West byelection last month stormed into the Electoral Commission (PNGEC) headquarters this week demanding to be paid what they are owed.

They have been waiting since June 24 to be paid wages, allowances and fees for services provided.

They included policemen engaged in security operations, officers involved in the polling and counting, presiding officers and those who provided hire vehicles and catering services.

They forced their way into the headquarters compound at Hohola on Thursday demanding to be paid.

But they were told there was no money to pay them. Returning Officer for the byelection Desmond Timiyaso told them that the K3 million (NZ$1.3 million) allocated by the government for the exercise had all been used up.

“There are no funds to pay you. So you have to wait till we get more funds then we will pay you your dues,” Timiyaso said.

Welder Nene John who sealed the five containers containing the ballot boxes for the five wards said he was owed K3000.

‘I have five children’
“I sealed the containers that contained the ballot boxes to keep them safe. I was paid only K600 after I submitted my invoice for K1000,” he said.

“Then I was told to (open) the locks and seal so that the ballot boxes can be taken out for the counting. I submitted my invoice of K3000 and am still waiting to get paid.

“It is almost two months now. I have five children two of whom are in primary school.”

A policeman who asked not to be identified said he was supposed to be paid K4200 for his hours during the security operation.

“There were 15 of us engaged by the PNGEC and owed a total of K63,000 (for providing) a 24-hour security for the (election) officers,” he said.

“We have been checking since the election ended and they keep telling us that there are no funds to pay us. How can that be? This election was funded and our engagement for security operation was funded.”

Presiding Officer Archie Baing said some of them had been paid part of what they were owed. Others had not been paid anything.

“This cannot continue as it is a chronic problem with the PNGEC. Every election, they don’t have funds to pay service providers and (casual election) workers,” he said.

“We want an independent auditor to audit funds used in the byelection. ”

The National articles are republished with permission.

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