15 Nov 2004

Doubt if PNG budget can be passed

4:29 pm on 15 November 2004

There are some doubts in Papua New Guinea whether the Government of Sir Michael Somare will have the numbers to pass the Budget.

The 2005 Budget is due to be tabled tomorrow and is expected to continue the fiscal restraint shown by the administration since it came to power two years ago.

But there is now conflict within the Government over the proposed sell-off of the telecom company, Telikom PNG, with MP Arthur Somare, the Prime Minister's son, attacking the planned sale to African firm, Econet.

Our reporter, Peter Niesi, says the attack raises questions about the cohesiveness of the government and its ability to pass the Budget.

"Now, so far the National Alliance and its coalition partners have withstood the Opposition effort to try and whittle down their numbers - add them to their own, in order to overthrow the government. They have survived that thus far, but last week's surprising turn of events (Mr Somare's comments) have given cause for concern."

Peter Niesi