22 Dec 2011

PNG parliament passes budget

8:05 am on 22 December 2011

The Papua New Guinea parliament has passed the budget following weeks of delays due to the political impasse in which two rival groups have claimed to be the legitimate government.

The impasse now appears settled after Peter O'Neill consolidated his claim to the prime ministership, this week being recognised by the Governor-General, the Speaker of parliament, the police commissioner, the Defence Force and the public service.

His rival, Sir Michael Somare, still claims to be the legitimate leader but lacks public support and the numbers to challenge Mr O'Neill successfully in parliament.

Meanwhile, the O'Neill administration passed its budget, the nation's largest ever, which includes substantial spending increases for health and education.

Earlier, a senior member of the O'Neill cabinet, Bart Philemon, said they would complete other key legislation as well.

"We have already put [through] the first and second reading of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The only other major legislation is the 22 women's seat one, [for] which parliament failed to get the required number of 73."

The O'Neill administration has also passed an amendment to the Prime Minister's Act which restricts the age limit of a Prime Minister to 72.

Parliament has been adjourned until January 17th.