Budget discussions strain New Caledonia government

Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

RADIO NZ – 4:46 pm on 5 September 2020

The anti-independence Caledonia Together party continues to be opposed to including the loan in the territory’s budget and wants a further debate about its terms in Congress.

With the support of the pro-independence side, the party’s stance has the backing of a majority in Congress.

This has angered the other anti-independence parties, including the president and the president of the Southern Province, who accused Caledonia Together of wanting to wreck everything by pursuing a scorched earth policy.

In reply, the Caledonia Together urged for more transparency surrounding the loan, saying they were not in North Korea.

The loan from from the French Development Agency was accepted by the president Thierry Santa three months ago as the territory’s social security system experienced severe problems.

At the time, Caledonia Together accused Santa of abandoning New Caledonia’s sovereignty in terms of fiscal, health and social matters.

The party warned that to repay the debt over 25 years New Caledonia would need to levy $US165 million in additional taxes by 2021 which they said would kill the economy and increase the social divide.

The public row over the loan comes four weeks before a referendum on independence from France.

Although being on the same side in the independence question, Caledonia Together and the anti-independence parties calling themselves the Loyalists have been at loggerheads for months.

In last year’s provincial elections, the once dominant Caledonia Together party suffered a severe electoral set-back, being left with only one minister in the 11-strong collegial government.


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