AFTER the 2015 general elections returned him to power, Enele Sopoaga is expected to spend the year pursuing development strategies and projects. Climate change negotiations and devastations caused by Cyclone Pam last March took up most of his time the past year and with general elections not expected until 2019, and unless his majority in the 15-member island legislature evaporated overnight necessitating a confidence vote, Sopoaga will work on consolidating his support from 2016.
He had boosted his capital budget in 2015, channelling funds to construct new schools, government offices and outer island projects. Like its northern neighbour, high fish license fees meant a budget surplus, and although his government had budgeted a deficit of A$0.4 million for 2015, the Asian Development Bank says the island treasury is actually running at a surplus of A$14.3m.
The bank says this money will go into Tuvalu’s trust fund. Money from the Tuna Treaty with the US is fuelling the budget surplus, says the ADB and has predicted that the 2% growth rate for 2015 is likely to continue into 2016.