THE Southern Highlands provincial government last Wednesday passed a K275 million provincial budget for this year in its meeting in Mendi.
The budget consists of the National Government’s allocation including K73 million as administration grants for public servants’ salaries, K76 million for public investment programmes (PIP) for health, education, law and order and other infrastructural developments, and K15 million as special support grants (SSG).
The balance of K111 million would be raised through internal sources.
Governor Anderson Agiru in handing down the money plan thanked the Somare Government for the continued support of the province and in funding of its on-going reconstruction, restoration and rehabilitation programmes.
The budget did not include “over and about K1.2 billion of infrastructure grants” as National Government commitments to Southern Highlands, Hela, Central, Gulf and Western provinces have been secured during the PNG LNG’s project’s licence-based benefit sharing agreement (LBBSA) forums last December.
Mr Agiru said for the first time the provincial government wanted to encourage women from the province to participate as business entrepreneurs and has, therefore, allocated K1 million to support women in business (WIB), sports and HIV/AIDS awareness in the province.
Apart from the K10 million, the National Government has allocated to the 109 districts in the country, the provincial government has also allocated additional K2 million each to the eight MPs of the province this year which would be paid to the joint district budget priority and planning committee (JDBPPC) to support development projects like aid posts, health centres, classrooms, feeder roads, law and order and other services in the districts.
Mr Agiru said his budget for 2008 and last year had stimulated growth in the province, and had created more than 5,000 jobs for young people, especially with contractors and companies engaged by the provincial government to implement projects.
Mr Agiru also announced that the province’s budget this year had been reduced by about K60 million which represents 30% reduction compared to last year’s budget.