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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 21, 1997 - PACNEWS)--- Concerns have been raised about the cost of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate's 40-member cabinet.

The cabinet ministers and vice ministers will cost PNG more than two million kina ($US1.2 million) in salaries and allowances alone each year, the Post-Courier reports.

Each of the 26 ministers and the Constitutional Development Committee chairman, excluding the Prime Minister and his deputy, will individually cost the state $70,400 in wages, entertainment, accommodations, vehicle allowances, and National Parliament Credit per annum. Each of the 12 vice ministers will cost the state $54,000.

The figures, based on the 18th Report of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission published in March this year, do not include domestic and overseas allowances, staffing allowances, communication allowances, and other entitlement expenses.

Sacked Agriculture and Livestock Minister Andrew Baing raised the concern regarding cost of the 40-member cabinet last week.

Baing said PNG was in a crisis situation with expected losses likely to amount to $110 million because of the effects of the drought. The government should be aiming for a leaner administration, he added.

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