Juffa presents 2021 Budget to Treasurer

The Oro Provincial Government has presented its 2021 budget of K146.5 million to Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey last Tuesday March 30, at the Waigani National Treasury Office.

The 2021 budget saw a massive increase of K31.5 million from the 2020 budget of K115 million mainly attributed to a number of Public Investment Programs (PIP) under the Marape-Basil Government.

The 2020 budget then was also increased by K30 million mostly due to the establishment of an effective Internal Revenue Collection Division.

Governor Gary Juffa while acknowledging the presence of Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, Ijivitari MP Richard Masere and Sohe MP Henry Amuli, said Oro has missed out on PIP projects since 2012 because of an oppressive regime that was not people focused.

“This year we are pleased to announce that we have secured PIP projects totalling over K30 million because of a government that is friendly and we are very much part of,” he said.

Juffa said the budget presentation was delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions and as a result, most of his PEC members and the Provincial Administrator were unable to attend.

The total annual budget of K146, 526,800 is represented by the following revenue sources including; National Recurrent Revenue K19, 541,900, Staffing Grants for Teachers K30, 406,100, other Public Servants K11, 959,400, National Development Revenue K10,500,000, Internal Development Revenue K31,000,000, Internal Recurrent revenue K14, 500,000, Unspent Recurrent revenue K11, 089,500, Unspent Development Grants K11, 529,900 and Unspent Internal Development Grants is K6,000,000 adding to the total budget of K146, 526, 800.

Juffa stated that the PIP projects including the K10m for the Provincial Services Improvement Program (PSIP) was for the first time boosted to K42 million.

The approved PIP projects for 2021 include the Oro Provincial Office Complex K5m, Northern Highway – Kokoda upgrading K4m, Popondetta Town Roads Improvement K4m, Afore Road (Arek’s Highway) patrol grading K4m, Kikiri/Gona road upgrading K5m, Sohe District Roads K5m and Downstream Processing Timber Mill K5m.

“Oro paid a lot of prize from 2012 to 2017 with no PIP funding due to our stand on issues affecting the country which the former government took offence and kept us off their development radar,” he said.

After teaming up with the current government of Prime Minister James Marape, Oro is now getting some good funding this year under PIP, boosting the total provincial budget by K30 million from last year’s budget, he said.

Juffa said given the dangers of Covid-19 affecting the country, more attention will be given to improving district health services and other health infrastructure and awareness with support from the two local members.

The regular lockdowns and the continuous drop in the economy has slightly triggered an increase in lawlessness in the province over the past few months.

The budget will also focus on addressing Law and Order with the establishment of reserve policing to assist the 60 regular police manpower in the province which was insufficient at the moment, he said.

 “We are planning to recruit 50 reserve constables every year and boost the number to 300 reserves in the next couple of years,” Juffa said.

New vehicles and firearms will also be allocated to police and the justice department to enable their mobility, he said.

He added that the Divune Hydro that is almost ready for commissioning will be handed over to the Provincial Government to be rolled out as an energy source for the province.

This will be a significant project including the Managalas Conservation area for carbon trade which will be developed soon.

“We are going to do carbon offsets that will be making money for the locals as we fight to eliminate illegal logging in the province,” he said.

Under the PIP funding, a K5 million allocated for downstream processing would help locals to do selective cutting to process at their own mill to generate revenue instead of exporting round logs through dubious means, Juffa said.

Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey has commended Oro for increasing their internal revenue by K14.5 million adding it was a lot of revenue for a small province.

He said bigger provinces did not show such internal revenue projections on their budget compared to Oro whose internal revenue base is quite minimal.

While acknowledging the Oro leaders for always coming together to present their budget, he said it was not the same for other provinces.    

Ling-Stuckey said due to Covid-19 restrictions, the national budget will see a shortfall of K3 billion this year compared to K2.7 billion experienced in the 2020 budget.

However, he said recovery measures will be put in place to manage the economy with assistance from other sources.

Freddy Mou