The Pilbara Ports Authority will experience a major change in the coming financial year as the WA state budget focuses on the mega iron ore exporter. 

With the State Government's debt expected to hit $43.8 billion by 2019/20, WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s first budget revealed Government trading enterprises would be expected to pay $807 million over four years. 

Mr Wyatt said WA Government-controlled ports would be in line for “efficiency measures”. 

The state will recoup a higher portion of the profit from mega iron ore ports operated by the Pilbara Ports Authority, such as Port Hedland and Dampier, where the dividend payout ratio will climb to 90 per cent for 2016-17 before falling back to 75 per cent. 

There will also be an increase in PPA port dues, with a 17 per cent increase in the 2017-18 financial year to be applied no later than October 1. 

The changes are expected to help improve the state’s debt position by $95 million over the forward estimates. 

The budget also outlined $33.8 million 2017-18 and 2018-19 to replace the berth three deck at the Port of Port Hedland. 

According to the budget, the berth three deck replacement will ensure the authority meets its obligations under the Leslie Solar Salt Industry Agreement Act 1966 to provide Dampier Salt with ongoing access to a suitable berth, and to avoid disruption to fuel imports into the Pilbara region. 

The Port of Ashburton, however, will get a $1.6 million reduction in spending over the next three years on minor works because of a delay in the port’s transition to the authority. 

The minor works allocation at the Port of Ashburton is intended to provide for the development of services.

Image: WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt speaking at the media lock up before the budget was announced in Parliament. The West Australian