OPPOSITION CALLS ON THE TREASURER, HON. CHARLES ABLE, TO STICK TO FACTS AND NOT MISLEAD THE NATION

  • Drop in Revenue for PNG is going to be even much larger.
  • Budget full of “Creative Accounting”
  • The Budget was passed on Voices, no vote was taken. He misled the media and reporters.

JOINT STATEMENT BY OPPOSITION LEADER, HON. PATRICK PRUAITCH, AND SHADOW TREASURER/FINANCE MINISTER, HON. IAN LING-STUCKEY

Please note that several media outlets have erroneously reported that the 2018 budget was passed unanimously, including a comment by Treasurer Hon. Charles Abel that the budget was passed 97-0.

This is totally false. The budget was passed on the voices and no vote were taken.

Treasurer Abel and everyone else who listened to the Opposition Leader, Hon. Patrick Pruaitch, the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Hon. Ling-Stuckey, and other Opposition MPs, including former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta, would have clearly understood that all Opposition MPs were opposed to the 2018 budget on grounds it was a “fake budget” as spelled out by the Shadow Treasurer.

The Treasurer, Hon. Charles Abel, in his effort to rebut the charge it was a “fake budget” has not provided any reason to doubt Hon. Ling-Stuckey’s contention that the 2018 budget contained at least K2 billion in fake revenue. These were carefully elaborated on by Mr Ling-Stuckey.

Revenue figures quoted by Hon. Abel for 2017 were based purely on estimates in the Supplementary Budget and Budget Strategy paper which were up to K408 million lower in the final tally. The Shadow Treasurer said the final figures, to be released by the end of March, were likely to show an even larger drop in revenue. Mr Ling-Stuckey said the PNG Treasurer has misled Parliament by stating that the 2017 budget deficit would be K1,876 million or 2.5% of GDP. If the final revenue figures disclosed in the 2018 budget papers were used, the correct 2017 Deficit figure would have been 3.1% of GDP.

In his budget speech the Treasurer said total revenue and grants in 2017 amounted to K10,979 million. In Vol 1 Chapter 4 of the Budget papers (pg 40) the revised estimate for Revenue and Grants for 2017 was shown to total K10,571.2 million, which is K408 million less than the revenue figure the Treasurer gave Parliament. Was this a genuine mistake or an outright lie designed to mislead Parliament?

Clearly, Opposition MPs could not have supported passage of a “fake” 2018 budget. Table 6 on pg 33 of Volume 1, showing the budget balance for 2016-2022 in percentage of GDP, lists debt to GDP as having risen to 32.6% in 2016 prior to the amendment in Parliament to allow debt to rise to up to 35% of GDP. The strongly rising debt profile in 2017, and the understatement of revenue, makes it implausible that debt to GDP would fall to 32.1% in 2017 and remain at 32.2% in 2018.

The Opposition urges the Treasurer, Hon. Charles Abel, to stop deluding himself and the nation with his “hard work” in producing statistics that bear all the hallmarks of creative accounting.