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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (January 6, 1998 PACNEWS)---The Tongan government's total expenditure budget for the 1997/98 financial year, both cash and in-kind, is projected to decline to 140.1 million pa'anga ($US91.4 million) compared to an estimated 157 million pa’anga ($US102 million) during 1996/97.

About 55% of the budget will cover ongoing operating expenses while the remaining 45% will be spent on development projects, Radio Tonga reports.

Total operating expenditures for the current year, 63 million pa'anga ($US41 million), represent a 4% increase from the estimated 60.6 million ($US39.5 million) during 1996/97.

The four sectors to receive the major share of the 1997/98 operating expenditure budget will be education - 18%, health - 13%, public debt - 10% and defense services - 5.2%.

Operations continue to be dominated by salaries and benefits for public servants, accounting for 53% of the total expenditure budget.

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