Vele anticipates 2021 budget to be tough with focus on rural areas

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By HELEN TARAWA
TREASURY secretary Dairi Vele says the 2021 budget is likely to be tough and is expected to focus on rural areas.
In response to questions about preparations for the 2021 budget, he told The National that it would be more like the supplementary budget.
“The world is still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 and we don’t know where that’s going to go,” Vele said.
“We’ve got a resilient community, the business community has come together to assist us and for us, we are working as hard as possible to ensure that bills are paid and the public servants are looked after.
“The Government’s got an extended programme to focus on the rural areas so the budget will be very much like the supplementary budget to ensure that we are building all the roads, schools and hospitals in the rural areas.
“By doing that, we will bring economic activities to the rural areas and commerce out to those areas.
“Even though it’s looking like a tough budget, we are excited under Prime Minister James Marape and Deputy Sam Basil that we are going to be putting a lot more resources out into the rural areas.”
Meanwhile, in response to questions about government offices that were locked out due to non-payment of rental bills, Vele said they were looking at all the arrears to see what was owed.
“That’s taking a little bit of time than what we liked and sometimes the rents are due at staggered stages. When they do get locked out, the government office allocation committee deals with those situations,” he said.
Vele said the latest government agency facing problems was PNG Customs Services and they were talking to the property management to be a bit reasonable.
“We started a conversation to pay them what we thought we owed but that’s being disputed.
“But we are committed to paying all our bills.”

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