2 Jun 2011

Critical budget meeting in Tonga could lead to spending cuts

7:00 am on 2 June 2011

The Tonga Legislative Assembly meets from today for what the opposition says is a critical budget session that should herald significant cut backs in spending.

The deputy leader of the Friendly Islands Democratic Party, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says foreign loans, repayable from 2013, now amount to nearly 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

He says there's a small opportunity to put the economy on a sustainable footing before those repayments become due.

Dr Halapua says the government has to identify its core functions to isolate what's vital and what can be put aside.

"Right now we have a budget with about 47 objectives. That's far too many. If we can deal with one or two objectives and implement it properly I think we are in a better position than trying to deal with 47 haphazardly and spread our money too thinly at the time that we don't have that resource."