Govt aims to present balanced 2010 budget

Main Stories, National

THE November session of Parliament, traditionally the budget session, starts today.
But Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch is expected to hand down the 2010 Budget next Tuesday.
Government insiders indicate that they expect a balanced budget for next year.
Cabinet met late into the evening yesterday with ministers arguing over 2010 allocations for projects and policies under their portfolios to be funded in the money plan.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare indicated in Kandep last week while campaigning for National Alliance candidate Don Polye that the Government would try to even out revenue with expenditure next year in order not to blow out the deficit.
He also indicated that the Government was confident of raising its targeted revenue in 2010 without borrowing externally.
A Cabinet source said yesterday that funding for the education programme – Universal Basic Education (UBE) – was the source of much debate yesterday.
Education Minister James Marape and his department officials are expecting an increase in their allocation in order to fully fund UBE, which will create additional teaching positions and increase demand for classrooms and other facilities in schools when it kicks off next year.
The source said Housing Minister Andrew Kumbakor presented a case for an increased allocation for his housing programme, which runs parallel with separate housing schemes managed by the Public Service Ministry and the Police Ministry.
Mr Kumbakor was expected to take the Prime Minister on a guided tour of his housing project in Gerehu yesterday afternoon, which has taken shape and is developing well, but the tour was abandoned because Cabinet was meeting till late in the evening.
Government sources said the recurrent expenditure for 2009 was expected to blow out because of salary increases for some public servants, payment of MoA funds to landowners, and the funding of the development forums for the PNG LNG project.
But that is expected to be offset by slightly higher than expected revenue from minerals, especially oil, gold and copper prices, which remain at or above budgeted figures.
Both the recurrent and development outlays for 2010 are expected to be higher, with the latter expected to hit the K3 billion mark.
No new tax measures were expected, the sources said.