23 Jun 2010

Explanation demanded for King's huge pay rise

8:00 pm on 23 June 2010

The New Zealand-based Tonga Advisory Council has called on the Tonga Government to explain why King George Tupou V is to get a huge increase in his annual state allocation.

According to this year's budget, the King will get about 200% more this year from the state. That takes his annual allocation to more than $700,000, with another $850,000 set aside each year for overseas travel.

The council's Melino Maka says that's a concern for Tongans overseas who remit money to family back home. He says there seems to be a disconnect in the message coming from the top.

"The Government needs to explain the reason why they made this," Mr maka says. "It appears to be a huge amount of allocation to His Majesty.

"If there is a genuine reason, they need to explain or communicate it back to, not only to Tongans in Tonga but the Tongans overseas."

Half from foreign aid donors, says MP

Earlier, pro-democracy Tongan MP Isileli Pulu said that about half of the huge increase will come from foreign aid donors.

That's the wrong move, Mr Pulu said, given Tonga's beleaguered economy and cuts in services.

He said the increase comes on top of the millions being spent on the Royal Palace, the King's coronation and the buy-back of his shares in the national electricity utility.

$7m allocated for palace extensions

More details have been released about planned extensions to the Royal Palace in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa.

Two new wings will be added to allow for space for official functions.

It's understood that about $7 million has been allocated for the extensions in the latest Budget.