2 Aug 2003

Marshall Islands health and education officials outraged over proposed budget cuts

7:43 am on 2 August 2003

Health and Education Ministry officials in the Marshall Islands say the proposed 2004 budget, does not reflect repeated government statements that their sectors are top priorities.

While funding through the Compact of Free Association is set to increase dramatically for the two ministries in 2004, the government's budget committee has slashed their funding from local revenues..

The net result, according to Health and Education officials, is that their budgets will be at the same levels as this year.

In a letter to President Kessai Note, the Economic Policy Planning and Statistics office director Carl Hacker says it shows the government does not place a high priority on health and education.

Mr Hacker says the Marshall Islands was one of four Pacific nations whose living standards declined in the last ten years, and the proposed budget will do little to arrest the decline.