26 Nov 2003

PNG 2004 budget presented in parliament

5:47 am on 26 November 2003

The Papua New Guinea 2004 Budget, which was handed down yesterday, includes tax breaks for smokers, drinkers, loggers and poker machine operators.

The cash-strapped government will cut excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products because it says the industry has been suffering reduced sales.

The government will also slash the 150 per cent tax on poker machines to 50 per cent for one year to help operators to upgrade their machines.

PNG's controversial logging industry also benefited, gaining a five per cent cut in logging export duties.

The budget will also implement laws allowing local and provincial governments to charge what is dubbed a "head tax" - this could be up to 17 US dollars per person and 35 dollars per company.

At the same time there will be an additional two percent tax on most imported goods.

Papua New Guineans were additionally hit by a reduced tax break on families, reducing the number of dependent children from four to three.

Meanwhile, the Treasurer Bart Philomen has indicated that the so called slush funds paid to MPs are to be increased to shore up support for the budget.