23 Jun 2010

Tonga MP claims aid money will boost King pay

1:23 pm on 23 June 2010

A Tongan pro-democracy MP says about half of the huge lift in the state allocation for King George Tupou the 5th will come from foreign aid donors.

It has been revealed in Budget papers the King is to receive nearly 200 percent more in the coming year, taking his allocation to one million Tongan pa'anga or just over half a million US dollars.

The MP who first raised concerns about the increase, Isileli Pulu, says it's the wrong move given the beleaguered economy.

And he points out it comes on the millions being spent on the Royal Palace, the King's coronation and the buy-back of his shares in the national electricity utility.

"It's too much for the country to bear. The thing is the Government has already got a half a million [Tongan pa'anga] and what happened, is they are going to top it up with the aid money from overseas. See the Government is looking for 23 point five millions [Tongan pa'anga] shortage, and they are going to finance it, the other half of the King's salary with the aid money, and I think it's too bad."

Isileli Pulu.

It is not yet clear which aid donor will be providing the top-up, but the New Zealand Government says none of its funding can be used in this way.