VANUATU PARLIAMENTARY SESSION DEBATES GOVERNMENT BILLS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 21, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tuqiri)---Vanuatu's second special session of Parliament got under way today and began consideration of the first of six remaining government bills to be debated this year.

After a minute of silence in honor of the tsunami victims in Papua New Guinea, Parliament began discussion of the Decentralization Amendment Act of 1998, Radio Vanuatu reports.

In presenting the bill, Internal Affairs Minister Father Walter Lini said its purpose was to avoid further breaches of the decentralization law passed in 1994, which dealt with the allocation of subsidies by the central government to the provincial governments.

Since the act was passed, Father Lini said the government had rarely met the 5 percent entitlement to the provinces.

It was announced later by the Minister of Finance, Sela Molisa, that the amount closest to meeting the requirement was made available in 1995, when the government allocated 285 million vatu ($US 2.1 million).

When answering inquiries from the MP for Tanna, Keasipai Song as to why there were shortfalls in funding due the provinces, Molisa said it was due to government overspending and no funds remaining for distribution to provincial governments.

Molisa explained that the government had overspent by 485m vatu ($US 3.7 million) in 1996, and by 520m vatu ($US 4 million) last year.

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