22 Jun 2010

Amid austerity, Tonga King gets allocation tripled

7:03 pm on 22 June 2010

The King of Tonga, George Tupou the 5th, is set to receive nearly 200 percent more from the state in the coming financial year.

According to the new budget, he is to be given just over half a million US dollars annually, with about 600,000 US dollars set aside each year for overseas travel.

This comes as the country battles back from two years of economic contraction which has led to cuts in a number of services.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says while reverence for the monarch is embedded in Tongan culture, that is beginning to wear thin, with King George Tupou's lack of involvement in issues which are important to the people.

"Say for example the Ashika Commission and the deaths of 74 people, the King had nothing to say about that during his opening speech at Parliament, so it's not going to go down too well with the people that he's getting a substantial increase in his salary. It does not appear to be connected to the daily issues that affect them."