20 Mar 2007

PNG PM electorate gets pre-election funding boost

1:36 pm on 20 March 2007

The East Sepik electorate of Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has received a huge funding boost just months before the country's general election.

The PNG Cabinet has approved almost 260 million US dollars in what are called gift projects for the province.

Following a Cabinet meeting in the provincial capital Wewak last week, Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye announced major airport, road and wharf upgrades for the province.

The PNG government recently gained freed-up funds of some 300 million dollars it had earmarked for investment in the now-collapsed PNG-Queensland gas pipeline.

The gift projects were condemned by one of Papua New Guinea's national newspapers as too little, too late.

The Post Courier said the projects were nothing more than an attempt to shore up support for the prime minister at the elections, and set a bad precedent for the future.

They said the funds should have been spread so that all of PNG's provinces gained from the windfall.