29 Jun 2007

A balanced budget in Niue once outstanding debts are put aside

1:35 pm on 29 June 2007

The Niue Government says it can balance its budget for the coming year after outstanding debts have been put to aside.

The government is able to spend less next year, mainly because it will not be making provision to pay back millions owed to aid donors, including an advance on funding given by New Zealand, and money due to regional bodies for subscriptions.

It is also cutting back the availability of the pension to those 60 and over rather than the current 55.

Around 40 percent of government spending is in wages for public servants but Finance Minister, Fisa Pihigia, says they expect to make savings later this year with a yet to be finished report suggesting that the number of ministries be reduced - though he stresses this does not necessarily mean reducing staff.

"We have to wait and see because the last thing that the government wants to do is put off people. Because people would start leaving Niue and going to New Zealand. We want to retain people here. So the only exercise is the attrition policy."

Mr Pihigia says the government is to negotiate with New Zealand over the outstanding debts.