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$8.8 million allocation small step toward 2015 event

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 22, 2011) – The government has allocated an initial 20 million kina [US$8.8 million] to start preparations for Papua New Guinea to host the 2015 Pacific Games.

But it is way short of the 1.24 billion kina [US$547 million] that the PNG Sports Foundation says it needs to host the games in Port Moresby in four years’ time.

Treasurer and Finance Minister Don Polye yesterday announced the 20 million kina [US$8.8 million] in the supplementary budget brought down in parliament.

He did not say when the rest of the money would be allocated, preferring instead to blame the previous government.

"Unfortunately, the previous government had failed to fund a single toea towards the Pacific Games, and time is fast running out to complete the required construction and refurbishment."

Polye said to ensure the cost of the games remained affordable, the focus would be on upgrading existing facilities instead of building a new stadium.

He said the games would include new accommodation facilities for about 5,000 athletes and officials built around tertiary institutions such as the University of Papua New Guinea, "which will leave a legacy to tertiary education institutions after the games".

"To commence preparations and to ease pressure on future budgets, K20 million has been allocated to the 2015 Pacific Games," Polye said.

PNG Sports Foundation CEO Iammo Launa was not available last night to comment on the supplementary budget allocation.

However, last month she said in a brief to Sports Minister Sali Subam that the foundation needed more than K1.24 billion to build a new sporting complex.

"That is likely to go up to K3 billion – a commitment the national government must fulfil after PNG won the bid to host the 2015 games.

"Since PNG won the bid to host the games in 2009 in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands, the country had not done anything," she said.

Launa said that the K1.24 billion would go after scope of designs for the facilities are done but earlier on, she could not hide the fact that PNG was lagging behind in its preparations for the 2015 Games.

"This is quite serious and the Pacific Games Council will have a say to this since we have not done anything," Launa told the new Minister in front of her staff and the media.

"Mr Minister, it is almost end of the year and to be quite honest, we have not started on our programmes towards the 2015 games," Launa said in her brief.

However, the passage of the 2015 Sports Authority Bill by Parliament last month had allowed the Games financing process to take place.

Subam said during the Sports Ministers meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia, early this month that the preparation for the 2015 Pacific Games continued unhindered.

Subam said this in a detailed report sent to all the 22 participating countries respective ministers.

Among other aspects, he gave them a detailed rundown on the establishment and role of a venues, infrastructure and equipment committee.

"It is with this passion for sport that we look forward to sharing with you in 2015, when you grace PNG’s shores for the 15th Pacific Games in Port Moresby," he added.

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