Not enough money for goods, services

Islands, Normal

By ABIGAIL APINA UPNG journalism student

EAST New Britain province has little money allocated in its 2010 provincial budget to spend on goods and services.
Governor Leo Dion told the provincial executive council (PEC), during their meeting last Wednesday, that while appreciating that the Government had allocated K65,324,300 for next year, 82% of this money was already fixed for the recurrent salary bill for public servants and teachers and 18% was left for goods and services.
He assured the PEC that their greatest strength was the resilience and entrepreneurial characteristics of their people.
While handing down the budget, he announced that it was the first budget he was presenting under the recent changes that removed the elected presidents from the provincial assembly and the PEC.
“I am a firm believer of collective decision making through the system of elected representatives by the people and I hope that Parliament will resolve this matter soon so that our presidents can resume their rightful place in the decision making institutions of the provincial government systems,” Mr Dion said.
The main features of the 2010 ENB budget are:
* Reduced budget from K108 million in 2009 to K81.3 million;
* K16.98 million (58%) of the goods and services budget will go direct to support services. Delivery at the district and local level government level;
* Internal revenue estimates is set at the same level of 2009 at K16 million;
* Teachers’ salaries (1%) account for a bigger proportion of the personnel emoluments; and
* Development component of the budget accounts for K8.79 million (13%) and K1.2 million  (8%) of the internal revenue and national grants respectively.
“In the economic sector the number of registered cooperative societies is increasing and remains a key priority, the government and the private sector need to find a common ground in moving this initiative forward,” he said.
Mr Dion urged all districts and local level governments to encourage farmers and men on the land to consider supporting this initiative by registering with the cooperative society.
He said that the provincial government would continue to pursue effective dialogue and partnerships with the private sector especially major development proponents such as those under the integrated agriculture projects.
This was not only to improve the provincial economy but also to improve market and access to services for the people through improved social services and other infrastructure.
The budget is made up of two main sources – the Government grant of K65,324,300 and the provincial revenue of K16 million.
Mr Dion said they would be looking at policy initiatives in 2010 to support their revenue raising.