Governor Sir Julius Chan chaired a meeting on Tuesday, December 5th, where the New Ireland officials convened to discuss the 2024 budget allocation for NIP in the 2024 National Budget, delivered early this month. The province hosts two gold mines and known for its significant contributions, found itself with one of the lowest projected budgets for 2024.
Despite the National Government boasting a "record budget" of K27 billion last week, New Ireland received a mere K127,042,578, marking a reduction of K36,328,086 from the 2023 budget of K162,370,664. CEO of Finance, Richard Andia, highlighted the drastic impact on the Public Investment Programme (PIP) funding, which saw a staggering decrease from K78,500,000 to K37,000,000 in the 2024 development budget.
Andia informed the JPP BPC and PEC members that the National Government Grant Revenue would cover 61% of the New Ireland Provincial Government (NIPG) budget for 2024, while internal revenue would account for the remaining 39%.
The PEC did not mince words, calling the budget allocation a "slap in the face" for landowners of Lihir and Simberi. New Ireland contributes almost 35% to the National Government's coffers through the two gold mines, with New Irelanders contributing 30% per capita to the country's GDP.
Governor Sir Julius voiced his discontent, stating, "The unfair treatment that we get from the National Government is pushing us to fight for greater autonomy and to support Bougainville's plight for independence."
Kavieng District Administrator David Lens expressed his views but remained silent throughout the meeting, while Namatanai Acting District Administrator Tifi Taylor was notably absent from the JPP BPC Meeting.
The final budget estimates for the 2024 New Ireland Government will face scrutiny at the final PEC Meeting for 2023 where the Provincial Assembly will give its approval. This meeting is scheduled for December 20th, 2023.
Feeling snubbed and disregarded, the province contemplates a future with greater autonomy in response to what they perceive as unfair treatment from the National Government.