The 2018/19 Appropriation Act and amendments was approved by the Legislative Assembly to be effective on July 1st.

It was unanimously passed by the House last night. All 20 MPs present voted in favour of the Act.

This is to appropriate public money for the service of government in the next financial year.

The amendments to the draft estimates include changes to the votes of the Office of the Legislative Assembly which was initially totalled at more than 10.4 million. Now it has been increased by $572,000.00 to a total of over $10.7 million.

Other amendments include $420,500 top up to the constituency vote on sub program 01.

It is for the establishment of 17 new electoral offices in Tonga. Lord Fakafanua said all offices will be furnished with vehicle and telephone credit to be provided.

Other allowances of $300,000.00 was made to finance salaries of staff in the electoral offices set up to help with MPs work.

The Speaker also thanked the Minister of Finance and the Treasury Department for making such allocation possible to assist MPs with their work.

Lord Fakafanua also announced that Cabinet has agreed to allocate $425,000.00 for the establishment of community police offices. It will be equipped as well with a $147,000 budget so they work together with legislators.

The Speaker said this supports the King’s wish to pay special attention to drugs related problems and issues faced by the community for a safer Tonga.

The budget allocation for the community police office is $425,000.00 which is a top up of the Constituency vote.

There was an independent reviewing of the MPs basic salary and gratuity. Adjustment were made to MPs benefits and was included in the Budget Estimate 2018/19.

The Speaker told Parliament this is deferred as Cabinet and Parliament agreed it is Government’s priority to focus on post TC Gita recovery.

The Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva applauded the consensus reached by Cabinet and Parliament thus honouring the King’s wish. That is to promptly address the need of TC Gita victims.

Pohiva thanked the Speaker and parliamentarians for their great effort in approving the budget in a very short time. He was expecting debate to last until tonight. This allows MPs to travel to Ha’apai in time for the Royal Agricultural Show on Saturday.

Meanwhile the House is adjourned until further notice.

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