Agriculture in focus

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By MALUM NALU
THE economic growth sector – in particular agriculture – received the biggest increase in funding in the K14.7 billion national budget tabled by Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel in Parliament yesterday.
It was allocated K665.9 million, compared to the K385.7 million appropriated in the 2017 supplementary budget in September – a 72 per cent increase.
Department of Agriculture and Livestock Secretary Dr Vele Ila’ava yesterday welcomed the big boost.
“I’m very happy with the budget outcome so far,” Ila’ava told The National after the budget announcement. “I’d like to thank the Government for coming good on the Alotau Accord Two commitment, which is to make agriculture our number one economic priority. I’m happy that they have transferred that into the budget.”
Abel said economic growth reflected the Government’s commitment towards boosting economic growth.
“The Government has maintained its support for the renewable resource sector by allocating a significant amount of funds to ongoing activities such as the Productive Partnership in Agriculture Programme, national cattle breeding farm, freight subsidy for cocoa and coffee, strategic defence against coffee berry borer, and the regional nurseries project,” Abel said.
“An agriculture commercialisation fund is established at K100 million, and further funding provided to the National Development Bank of K100 million for SME lending.
“The People’s Microbank receives K20 million.
“K50 million is provided for industrial centre development, particularly to support SME incubation centres. Tourism will benefit for the first time from a loan from the World Bank of US$20 million (K64 million), which will be particularly drawn in 2018 with counterpart funding from the PNG Government of K8 million.”

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