EHP budget blocked

National, Normal

MEMBERS of the Eastern Highlands provincial assembly yesterday rejected the K84.8 million 2010 budget for the province.
The members, especially national Members of Parliament, blocked the money plan tabled by Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith at the provincial assembly, claiming the Government and provincial administration did not consult them when framing the budget.
They were also disappointed that their projects did not get funding in the budget.
Goroka MP Thompson Harokaqveh moved a motion to have the budget reviewed straight after chairman of finance and Mr Kela-Smith concluded his budget speech and opened the floor to discuss the money plan.
Mr Harokaqveh’s move was supported by Deputy Governor and Obura-Wonenara MP John Boito and Environment and Conservation Minister and Unggai-Bena MP Benny Allan.
The governor called for a vote on the floor and all MPs including Harokaqveh, Mr Boito, Mr Allan, Sailon Beseo (Kainantu), Kondo Patrick (Daulo) and Yawe Silupa (Lufa and Vice-Minister for Health & HIV) supported the motion.
Provincial Works and Transport chairman Gideon Korarome, chairman community development Walter Nombe and women representative Jenny Gurune voted against the move.
The budget was adjourned to next month.
The province would have to operate on a supply bill until the money plan gets passed, and this could affect Government services and payment for goods and services.
“My concern is that there is no input from us, the districts, therefore, I want us to review this budget,” Mr Harokaqveh said when stating his opposition to the budget.
Mr Boito said they were given only a day to look at the budget before the session.
Mr Kela-Smith tried to explain that the provincial budget committee had allocated funds to the districts according to their respective five year development plans and not from a shopping wish list.
He also said ample time and letters were sent out to respective districts in May and June to submit in the projects for next year but many did not comply.
“All the district administrators and MPs were busy with the K14 million district service improvement programme funds and forget about the provincial budget and now you are complaining,” Mr Kela-Smith said.
Mr Kela-Smith said he was sick and tired of MPs who were always away in Port Moresby and came in the last minute to block the province’s budget.
He said the provincial government’s aim was to put more money into one impact project per district and achieve it rather than allocating on small projects that do not have great impact.
The provincial administration decided that PEC would meet next Tuesday to accommodate some of the projects that the MPs were complaining about and the assembly would reconvene on Friday to try to pass the budget.