Friday 25 November 2022

A bi-partisan parliamentary committee, comprising members from both the Opposition and Government has been established to   review and improve the country’s electoral process, with a submission to Cabinet next year 2023.

Prime Minister James Marape said, with Papua New Guinea set to mark its 50th Independence anniversary in 2025, and the next National General Elections in 2027, his   government is keen in securing the voting system in time for these two major events and beyond.

The Prime Minister was responding to Opposition Leader Hon. Joseph Lelang who, during Questions Without Notice, asked the Prime Minister a series of questions on reviewing the electoral process, the work of the parliamentary committee, and citizens identification and how these relate to voting.

PM Marape agreed with the Opposition Leader, saying that the many challenges of PNG’s electoral system have become “very serious business” and that the country needed a “better electoral process”.

“We want them to be at work; we want them to have full funding, to be at arm’s length from Government, and have a holistic review into what happened in 2022 (National General Elections), in 2017, 2012, 2007 and going back over the entire process.

“We want them to put in an informed, fact-based suggestion to us on how we conduct elections in 2027 and beyond.

“The committee has the freedom to establish the terms of reference. The Government will not influence this Committee and its independence of work.

Prime Minister urged the committee to  commence  work  immediately.

“From the desktop: establish a template, what needs to be done, as well as the detailed work that should start as soon as possible, and run exhaustive work in the early part of 2023.

“The overall timeframe I am looking at is that by 2025, we will have arrived at a process clearly – whatever that is.”

The Prime Minister said bio-metric voting through the National Identification system would be worked out, especially now that the Government will conduct a comprehensive census next year 2023 to get better data on the population of PNG.

He said this would help toward improving the voting system so that by 2027, there is an improved and secured system.

“The Government will hold back our commentary and get this committee to recommend to us and certainly the consideration of an independent team to work with this committee can be looked at. “By 2023, the proposal should have matured to submission level that should come to Government for implementation,” said PM Marape.