The Tongan government has confirmed it paid thousands of dollars to Forbes, which recently ran a feature on Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva.
Radio Tonga reports the government paid nearly $US50,000 to the magazine but Mr Pohiva said he was not aware the money was for the interview.
Lord Tu'iha'ateiho had queried the need to spend public money for a mere interview.
But Finance and Planning Minister 'Aisake Eke said the agreement with Forbes was in return for 400 copies of the magazine with the image of King Tupou VI on it.
He said, with the upcoming coronation, this was not a loss for Tonga but a profit for the country, with the edition carrying the interview promoting Tonga worldwide.
Mr Eke said the money would be allocated from the budget of the Tonga Tourism Authority.