25 Jun 2018

Tonga's Budget finally passed

7:15 am on 25 June 2018

Tongan's $US293m budget for the 2018-19 Financial Year has finally been passed by Parliament.

The Minister of Finance tabled the Budget on May 31 but debate got off a sluggish start, not only because the Budget was incomplete when it was tabled, but there was also a petition for the House to defer its debate, while seven Cabinet Ministers and the accounts of their ministries were audited.

Tongan MP, Pohiva Tu'ionetoa

Tongan MP, Pohiva Tu'ionetoa Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Matangi Tonga reported Pohiva Tu'ionetoa introduced his budget under the theme, "Rehabilitating to a more secure situation".

It is financed from various sources, including a $US131m Government Fund, $US81m in donations and $US19.3m in budget support from aid donors.

The government's major expenditure is the salaries of Civil servants, at nearly 54 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

There is also a government assistance to non government schools of $US3.1m.

The government total loans as of June 2018 is $US207m; $US181.75m of which consists of overseas loans.

Mr Tu'ionetoa said a focus of the budget would be on recovering from the devastation inflicted by February's Cyclone Gita which was damaged estimated exceed $US145m.

He said $US47.5m from the budget had been specifically earmarked for cyclone recovery over the next four years.

Nuku'alofa after Cyclone Gita.

Nuku'alofa after Cyclone Gita. Photo: New Zealand High Commisson in Tonga

Tonga's Cyclone Gita Recovery Receives Significant Boost

Meanwhile the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved an additional grant of $US10 million dollars to help Tonga's recovery from Cyclone Gita.

The money is to support reforms to strengthen the government's finances and foster a more dynamic economy.

Cyclone Gita was the strongest cyclone to hit Tonga since 1982.

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