26 Nov 2003

PNG 2004 budget tabled in parliament

8:31 am on 26 November 2003

The Papua New Guinea 2004 Budget has given tax breaks for smokers, drinkers, loggers and poker machine operators.

Excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products will be cut and the government will slash the 150 per cent tax on poker machines to 50 per cent for one year to help operators to upgrade their machines.

The logging industry has also benefited, gaining a five per cent cut in logging export duties.

But as our correspondent, Peter Niesi, reports the treasurer, Bart Philemon, aims to meet recurrent expenditure from what the government can earn.

"The current budget is mostly funded from within PNG's own means so Mr Philemon's dreams of trying to see Papua New Guineans live within their own means is beginning to yield a little. They still have to find US 50 million to fund the budget but they intend to do that on a commercial loan basis."

Peter Niesi in Port Moresby.

The budget will also implement laws allowing local and provincial governments to charge what is dubbed a "head tax" - this could be up to 17 US dollars per person and 35 dollars per company.

The Treasurer has indicated that the so called slush funds paid to MPs are to be increased to shore up support for the budget.