Government policies have contributed to a decline in PNG’s economic performance since 2013 with ongoing mismanagement continuing to have negative impacts even though commodity prices have risen, Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch said today.

Mr. Pruaitch said that in PNG, the best indicator to growing or declining levels of prosperity is provided by employment trends. “Jobs are disappearing while the population continues to grow at a faster rate than the economy,” he said.

He said: “The Bank of Papua New Guinea is the only agency monitoring employment, with a database that is objective and not prone to political manipulation. BPNG does not provide raw employment data. It shows trends that use March 2000 as the base period.

“BPNG data clearly shows formal sector employment has been falling since 2013, prior to completion of the US$19 billion PNG LNG Project construction in May 2014.

“My greatest concern is that every year under current misguided Government policies thousands of jobs are disappearing and, most disheartening of all, is the fact that the pace of decline in the availability of jobs has accelerated even more in the past year,” Mr Pruaitch said.

The Treasurer, Hon. Charles Abel, and others have talked much about the recent establishment of a dairy industry and milk production, but the 150 to 200 jobs created is a minuscule part of the nation’s employment base with each job requiring a capital investment of K1 million or more.

“The Treasurer, who clearly is an expert in creating fictional numbers, believes PNG’s imports of milk products is worth K400 million when BPNG statistics show that the total PNG food and beverage import bill amounted to less than K700 million in 2016.”

Sharp fall in employment from 2013-2017 with NCD the worst regional performer

Since the base year, employment had grown by 72.2% by the end of 2013 and fallen by 10 percentage points by September last year as shown by BPNG year-end indices as follows:

  • 2013 – 172.2
  • 2014 – 170.9
  • 2015 – 169.7
  • 2016 – 166.1
  • 2017 – 162.0 (end of Sept quarter)

Mr. Pruaitch said it was also worth noting that the worst regional performer in terms of job losses has been the National Capital District, the largest beneficiary of National Government capital expenditure as well as the largest recipient of GST revenues.

The NCD employment trends, as monitored by BPNG, showed a peak employment index level of 171.5 in 2013. By the September quarter last year this had plummeted to 137.1, a massive drop of 34 percentage points.

“The National Government likes to boast about the infrastructure it has built in Port Moresby. This data shows that the National Capital has been a major drag on the PNG economy and a clear symbol of the Government’s misguided economic policies,” he said.

 

HON. PATRICK PRUAITCH, CMG MP

Leader of the Opposition