By Mickey Kavera – EM TV, Southern Highlands
The Southern Highlands provincial government has become one of the first provinces in the country to pass its massive K287 million budget last week.
Meanwhile West New Britain also passed a record budget of K182 million this week.
The Southern Highlands provincial budget was passed during the final provincial assembly meeting in Mendi on Friday last week, and was based on a total internal revenue of K178 million for developments in the project.
Governor Powi, while handing down the budget, said the internal revenues were made up of a provincial service improvement program of K25 million, Kutubu IDG of K10 million, Gobe K8.5 million, petroleum resource Kutubu dividends K15 million, infrastructure grants of K5 million, special support grants of K20.6 million, Moran Development levy of K10 million, another K4 million from Unitise, a special support grant and K5 milion from GST.
However Powi said there is a problem with the K8.5 million from the Gobe IDG grants as a result of ongoing court cases, but has been factored into the budget while the provincial government is also uncertain of how much it would receive in royalites from the PNG LNG project.
A total of K87 million is a tight operational grant from the National Government for the province.
Governor Powi said the biggest slice of the funds would go to infrastructure with K46 million, followed by K40 million for education, K35 million for health, K20 million on roads, and K12 million for LLG, support for construction of six local level government chambers, and further support to law and order.
He said some of the impact projects factored into the budget, among others, are as follows: the School of Excellence (initial funding of K10 million), the Southern Highlands Tachers College (K10 million), the Southern Highlands Public Service Housing Program (K10 million), K7 million for each high schools and secondary schools (K7 million each), and maintenance of the 38 heath centres; the Kagua police barracks (K5 million), hospital maintenance work (K3 million), church partnership (K5 million), and provincial database systems (K3 million).
He said he has also included K400,000 for the legal year opening in Mendi on 6 February.
Other provincial roads that received continued support are the Pangia-South Wiru, Pangia-Apenda, Tona Pimbil (K1 million continued funding), Koen to Kombal (K2 million), Nembi Plateau Road (K1 million), Kutubu-Bosave (K1 million), Mendi Kagua Road (K1 million) and Erave Maroro Road (K1 million).
He said the university students tuition fee support would continue to received K2 million, while Pimaga town received K4 million in the 2015 budget.
He said the budget is a continuation of the rebuilding process of his government.
Governor Powi also presented the 2014 financial report to the provincial assembly, broadcasted through a loud-speaker for the public.