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Samoa general election comes with $1.7m price tag
5:13 pm GMT+12, 14/05/2017, Samoa

The Samoa General Election in 2016 cost $1.7 million tala (US$650,000).
 
The figure is a “90 per cent increase” compared to the cost incurred for the 2011 General Election, according to the official Report of the General Elections 2016.  
 
A copy of the report has been obtained by the Samoa Observer. More than half a million was spent on the expenses surrounding the “Election Officials.”
 
Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer explained that the increase in expenses was due to the increase in the number of voters compared to the last elections.  
 
The report says that ‘polling allowances for all officials was $390,650(US$149,134); overnight allowance for the officials in Apia, amounted to $36,025 (US$13,788) and $5,300 (US$2,0280 for Savai’i.  
 
Rental of 52 buses, 35 pickups and 52 vans to transport officials was $99,717.97 (US$382,759).  
 
Chartering of MV Naomi for Savaii Polling Officials was $25,152.83 (US$19627); Accommodations and meals for Polling officials stationed at special booths in Savaii was $2,404.35 (US$919,093); phone cards for polling stations $4,145.89 (US$1,584).  
 
According to the report, $13,704.74 (US$5, 238) was spent on catering and refreshments for polling officials stationed at special booths in Upolu and during official count.  The total amount of funds spent on the election officials.  
 
Faimalomatumua explained that these “allowances” are for people who assisted in the election. They did not get paid to provide assistance “rather they receive allowances.  
 
“For convenience purposes to voters and the process, there was an increase of more than a hundred additional polling booths around country. Which means additional polling officials and a fair amount of our election budget was spent on allowances.”  
 
He pointed out that the polling officials are government employees and public servants who have experience and have worked in previous elections.  
 
It was unclear at the time of press as to how many ‘polling officials’ worked during the election in question.  
 
According to the report, the Electoral Office also paid out overtime of $128,473 (US$49,045). 17 to its staff.  
 
Faimalomatumua explained the preparation for the General Elections 2016 “it was necessary for our staff to work overtime for a number of months to ensure that the electoral rolls, the ballot papers, and all the other logistics for the elections were in place prior.  
 
“The changes to the Electoral Act also required significant changes to the electoral systems (e-system and manual file systems) which required a complete reassignment based on the new Amendments to the Act.  
 
“That took significant amount of time as there’s more than a 100,000 files that needed to be arranged manually in accordance with the new amendments to the Act.   
 
“Furthermore, during the official count, once again it was necessary that our staff must work overtime to ensure that the final results of the general elections is finalised and released at the earliest opportunity.” He further told Samoa Observer that the whole staff was entitled to overtime except for management (contract officers).  
 
“The registration works started well over a year before elections...then there’s the editing of the rolls and sorting of files to reconcile with the data on the system. “The overtimes ceased once the final results were released a week after the 2016 general elections,” he explained.  


SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS


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