13 Sep 2006

Niue ro raise charges for basic services to cut costs

7:35 pm on 13 September 2006

The people of Niue will be asked to pay more for bus, school and medical services as the government strives to balance its Budget.

The budget through to July 2007 was passed last week with spending at a record 15 million US dollars, an increase of about six percent.

The finance minister, Fisa Pihigia, says the increase is needed because they now have a new hospital to operate and want to develop the island communities in an effort to rebuild Niue's dwindling population.

But he says the government will also be raising charges to cut some of its operating costs.

"Like consultations with a doctor, there's school fees and for use of bus services for the children. And we have taken out some of the contracted works that make use of the government employees to do those works rather than have then contracted out to people."

Fisa Pihigia.

The Budget includes a substantial allowance for unpaid fuel bills at Niue Power but there are no indications in the Budget that electricity charges will be increased.