The philosophy of the Alternate Government is to set out better solutions for PNG’s challenges.

K2 billion in fake revenue totally undermines the credibility of the 2018 Budget.

Even as the government looks at passing this budget, we know that there will be a need for a 2018 Supplementary Budget. This latter budget is likely to cut worthwhile increases in health, agriculture, education and infrastructure. From a business perspective, if the sales are not being made, then you will need to trim expenses and we will be doing this later in the year” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey.

Today, I was given the honour of presenting the Alternate Government’s response to the 2018 Budget.

The philosophy of the Alternate Government is to set out better solutions for PNG’s challenges.

So rather than just exposing and opposing the regrettable parts of this budget, we set out proposing solutions. This positive approach was also shown in the budget comments by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Patrick Pruaitch MP and former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

This solutions approach focused on dealing with three critical crises facing PNG.

The first critical issue is PNG’s budget crisis.

Our public debt levels have trebled from K8 billion to over K24 billion in just a few short years. Growing interest costs consume the largest increase in the 2018 Budget. This must be turned around. We need to be more accurate in our budget forecasting, we need to spend better, we need realistic rather than yet more fake financing plans. PNG needs to go from fake budgets to real budgets serving the people, the families, the businesses of PNG” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.

The second critical issue is the foreign exchange crisis which is crippling local businesses and killing growth.

The Alternate Government sets out short, medium and longer-term solutions to address this crisis.

The third critical issue is the jobs crisis.

Jobs growth is going backwards under this government. We need to get the economy going again. The Alternate Government commits to lifting incomes by at least 5 per cent per annum within three years of coming to government through rebuilding confidence, concentrating on what government’s do well rather than ‘picking winners’, encouraging investment and seeking to make the PNG economy internationally competitive” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance.

As I highlighted yesterday, and covered in the press today, one of the most disturbing features of the 2018 Budget is how the government’s hands are going deeper into the pockets of PNG shoppers. There are hidden taxes in this budget that will substantially increase the cost of living for PNG families. There are 32 pages of tariff increases or stopping tariff reductions from 1 January 2018.

This government just does not understand how tough things are for people other than their besties. They are moving back down a protectionist path that is against the spirit of the APEC meeting we are hosting in 2018” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.

My budget response was a detailed one. This was necessary to be clinical in my business assessment of this budget as well as being positive in proposing solutions. As I looked deeper and deeper into the budget papers, I found huge inconsistencies. Claimed programs to increase revenues were actually being cut – but one needed to be more than a thousand pages into the budget papers before this was revealed. Accurate details are important for good governance, so I was very disappointed to find that key initiatives such as K440 million in equity investments for agriculture was actually a failed 2014 scheme with no results – once again, one needed to be over a thousand pages into the budget papers to find these important details.

The budget response supports increased budget spending planned for agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises. Importantly, it also sets out much better ways for spending such funding.

Once again, this reflects the philosophy of this budget response to expose the hidden detail, oppose failed old ideas, and propose better ways to spend money and find more sustainable solutions” said the Shadow Treasurer.

A list of the Alternate Government’s views on a way out of PNG’s budget, foreign exchange and jobs crises is attached. More detail is provided in the budget response itself.

The Alternate Government understands that there is a need for a much broader national discussion about PNG’s challenges and ways forward. This needs to be more inclusive and much more honest than was done for the 2018 Budget. We are setting out a positive agenda focusing on better solutions, and that is why the Alternative Government would be a better Government for PNG.

Hon.Ian Ling-Stuckey,CMG.MP
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance