Tonga’s $293m Budget passed
25 June, 2018, 4:00 pm
NUKU’ALOFA, 25 JUNE 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – Tongan’s US$293million budget for the 2018-19 financial year has finally been passed by Parliament.
The Minister of Finance tabled the Budget on May 31 but debate got off a sluggish start, not only because the Budget was incomplete when it was tabled, but there was also a petition for the House to defer its debate, while seven Cabinet Ministers and the accounts of their ministries were audited.
Pohiva Tu’ionetoa introduced his budget under the theme, “Rehabilitating to a more secure situation”.
It is financed from various sources, including a US$131million government fund, $U$S81million in donations and US$19.3million in budget support from aid donors.
The government’s major expenditure is the salaries of Civil servants, at nearly 54 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
There is also a government assistance to non-government schools of U$S3.1million.
The government total loans as of June 2018 is $US$207m; U$S181.75million of which consists of overseas loans.
Tu’ionetoa said a focus of the budget would be on recovering from the devastation inflicted by February’s Cyclone Gita which was damaged estimated exceed US$145million.
He said US$47.5million from the budget had been specifically earmarked for cyclone recovery over the next four years.
Meanwhile the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved an additional grant of US$10 million to help Tonga’s recovery from Cyclone Gita.
The money is to support reforms to strengthen the government’s finances and foster a more dynamic economy.
Cyclone Gita was the strongest cyclone to hit Tonga since 1982.