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PNG’S MOROBE PROVINCE GETS $4 MILLION BOOST Governor sets funds aside for improvements

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 30, 2008) - Morobe Governor Luther Wenge yesterday committed PGK9 million [US$4 million] from the provincial budget to the nine districts next year.

Mr. Wenge announced to a packed meeting of leaders, including local level government presidents, that the 2009 budget would provide PGK1 million [US$401,000] each to the districts.

Speaking during the ceremony where the former presidents formally handed over powers to the new presidents, he said from the PGK1 million allocated to the districts, about PGK100,000 to PGK250,000 [US$40,000 to US$100,000] would be set aside for unconditional grants for the council presidents.

Wenge said the balance of the money would go to improve the district administrations. He said there was already an understanding among the local MPs that all the money would go to the districts to buy their own machinery instead of bringing in contractors to develop infrastructure in the districts.

Wenge said the National Government has already allocated the PGK50 million [US$20 million] needed to fix the Lae roads and has indicated there would be a feasibility study conducted for every street and road in Lae city in the next four years. He said this was a priority project to be funded by the government.

Wenge said there were also plans for roads to link Lae and Kabwum, Lae to Finschhafen and to Sialum which was the second impact project for the province.

He also assured there would be scholarships for all Morobean students attending tertiary institutions throughout the country.

"Only Morobe gives 100 percent scholarships to students attending tertiary institutions. Already 1,600 students have graduated from the scheme," Wenge said.

He said his government was also looking at encouraging the people to take up agriculture, especially planting oil palm in the Markham plains, Morobe Patrol Post and the border between Morobe and Gulf provinces.

Wenge said his government would put in money towards oil palm.

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