17 Jun 2010

Tonga govt cuts spending in military and foreign affairs sectors

5:39 am on 17 June 2010

The Tonga Government is cutting spending in several sectors as it struggles with the impact of two years of economic contraction.

In the latest Budget, Finance Minister Afu'alo Matoto, has revealed Government earnings in the current year are down nearly 20 percent on forecast.

He says there will be cuts to spending on foreign affairs, parliament and the military, but slight increases in health and education.

More than a million US dollars has been cut from the military budget amid plans for the defence service to be nearly doubled in size.

Our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu, says it's likely funding from donors will be sought because the intention is still to nearly double personnel in the service to 1500.

"It's been made law. It's been gazetted. In fact we have had defence personnel speaking on national radio, saying that Tonga has been invited by Britain to join in efforts in Afghanistan. So it is presumed that the expansion of the army is to assist with international peace keeping."