PNG PARLIAMENT APPROVES $3.2 BILLION BUDGET

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 30) – The Papua New Guinea parliament passed the 2008 Budget yesterday, with both the Government and Opposition members of parliament voting together.

The PGK8.9 billion [US$3.2 billion] government spending plan received the backing of all 21 political parties with a 76-0 vote.

The Opposition backed it despite labeling a budget of missed opportunities, and raised questions about accountability of the trust accounts which over PGK4 billion will be kept in, outside of Government consolidated revenue.

Before passing the budget, Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch accused the Opposition of giving misleading figures on the budget.

Mr Pruaitch said there were less than 200 trust accounts and not 10,000.

Speaking in support of the budget, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare praised it as one where people of PNG would see monies were being used for their prosperity and to improve services to rural areas and to further grow the economy.

He said the budget priorities were set within the policy framework of the medium term development strategy and the medium term fiscal strategy and not set on a ‘faulty structure’ or ‘shifting sand’.

The Prime Minister described shadow treasurer Bart Philemon’s response as a "timid" and "feeble" attempt to discredit the Government and mislead the people of PNG.

Public Service Minister Peter O’Neill described it as a "people’s budget".

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