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By Moana Moeka’a

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (August 13 2001 – Cook Islands News)---Parliament hasn’t even began to debate the country’s budget but government have already penciled in the changes.

The government budget will now be for a sum of $84,088,586 -- $11,000 less than that tabled in the Appropriation Bill on July 31.

[All dollars are New Zealand dollars. NZ$ 1.00 = U.S$ 0.4396 on August 19, 2001]

The biggest savings have been in the form of a $114,000 reduction in Ministerial Support, with the Prime Minister’s office now set to receive $350,000 including capital expenditure -- down from $371,000 -- and the new Deputy Prime Minister’s office now due for $270,000 -- a reduction of $80,000.

The former Deputy Prime Minister’s office will continue to receive support of up to $57,000 in the current financial year. It is unsure as to what exactly this support constitutes. After last month’s sacking of NAP leader Norman George, the former DPM’s office was to remain open under chief executive officer Vaine Teokotai, with new Health Minister Peri Vaevae Pare overseeing operations. Vaevae Pare’s office will receive $150,000, as will Outer Islands, Education and Internal Affairs.

But while Auckland Consul Iaveta Arthur will receive a new vehicle worth $50,000 under the Foreign Affairs vote, management of the Code of Conduct under the Ombudsman’s office gets the chop.

In all the Ombudsman will receive $152,296 -- $40,000 less than the July 31 estimates, with one output -- coordinating Ombudsman’s services nationally and worldwide -- also getting the cut.

George’s home island of Atiu loses out with the deferment of its forestry plan ($50,000), and new four-wheel drives/motor bikes/office equipment ($73,000). However the capital expenditure will now go towards the purchase of a tractor.

Tuanga Taporoporo, or Environment Services has had $100,000 sliced off its original appropriation -- now down to $527,165.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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