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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 13, 1999 – The National)---Fees that University of Papua New Guinea students must pay to study there next year will form a crucial part of a "survival budget" the University Council recently approved.

Acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Cecilia Nembou said this week that the council, at its November 29 meeting, approved an expenditure plan considered as a "contingency or a fallback plan" that was prepared with the view that UPNG may not receive an increase in its government budget allocation for 2000.

Meantime, students in all universities in the country are required to pay 25 percent of fees charged for tuition, board and lodging next year.

Earlier, angered by the increase from 10 percent, students boycotted classes in protest, forcing the council to shut down the 1999 school year before the end of the normal term.

When the Government announced its 2000 Budget two weeks back, Dr. Nembou described UPNG's allocation as insufficient.

She said UPNG recurrent budget position has not improved and it means other revenue raising measures, including the proposal to increase school fees by 25 percent, have to be implemented.

The outgoing head of the institution made the comments to correct the false perception by interest groups that the UPNG received a budget increase of K 5.5million (US$ 2.09 million).

"UPNG did not get an increase in the 2000 Budget. A mere K 25.5million US$ 9.69 million) was the real amount and this is the same amount as the 1999 allocation," she said.

Dr. Nembou said the Government still owed UPNG K 6 million (US$ 2.28 million) from commitments made in 1997, when the Government forced UPNG to spend that amount on back-up generators to counter power black-outs and install a new air-conditioning system for the library.

"The Government has forgotten its commitment in spite of numerous reminders,'' she said.

She estimates that the university needs at least K 40 million (US$ 15.2 million) to operate without having to cut back.

The Health Department will allocate about K 1.8million (US$ 684,000) to support the UPNG's Health Science program, Dr. Nembou said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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