DOUBTS have been expressed about the impartiality of an election steering committee which controls funds for managing Papua New Guinea's upcoming elections.
A US$120 million election budget is to be controlled by the committee whose chairman is the chief secretary to the PNG government, Isaac Lupari, rather than the electoral commissioner.
A number of intending candidates were concerned that this arrangement could enable interference in the Electoral Commission's role in managing the elections.
Intending Hela Province candidate Raymond Kuai said the constitution states the commission must operate independently from any other arm of government.
"What is independence for the Electoral Commission without the Electoral Commission managing its own funds, determining its own operations, budgeting its own funds, as to where and how it must be spent,” Mr Kuai said.
“So in other words, there is political interference. The government of the day wants to diminish the independence of an important constitutional arm of government."
Electoral Commissioner Paulius Gamato denied that there would be any political interference in the management of the five-yearly elections.
He said the commission would be free to conduct its work impartially.