“When considering how best to respond to Treasurer Abel’s misleading remarks on his tax tariff increases, and his personal attack on me as Shadow Treasurer, I have decided to provide a detailed response going through the facts. PNG is a democracy, and that means it is important for different sides of politics to put forward in some detail their views on how best to improve PNG. This needs to go beyond just broad policy goals but to get down into some details of how these goals can be best achieved. So I have prepared a detailed response to the Treasurer’s attack, but as it is a long response, I have decided to break it into five parts. I hope the local media will provide coverage of all five components to encourage democratic discussion and debate” stated the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey.
“Today is the first part of the response. It focuses on a specific example of the Treasurer either lying or being extraordinarily incompetent. The second part covered how the government has ignored expert advice from its own Independent Consumer and Competition Commission on building competitive markets in areas such as the flour industry. In the third, the Alternative Government will put forward a constructive suggestion on how to better protect consumer interests and take into account the cost of living pressures on PNG families. The fourth will discuss the timber manufacturing industry and the former tariff reduction program introduced in response to the PNG’s last economic crisis in the late 1990s under the PNC. The fifth and final response will include better ways under an Alternative Government to increase incomes and jobs in PNG while keeping down the cost of living.
“DPM and Treasurer, Charles Abel has responded to Ling Stuckeys comments on tariffs today; “It would be great if the Shadow Finance Minister actually understood the facts before his continuous misleading outbursts in the media.” He goes on to claim “The tariff on milk is only being applied to fresh milk not UHT milk so prices have not been affected.”
This is the most blatant lie from the Treasurer. I am extremely worried about the competency of the nation’s Treasurer when he makes such a statement. His own legislation makes it very, very clear that the tariff on milk of an additional 25% does apply to UHT milk.
The simple fact is that on pages one and two (so not even hidden away in the 37 pages of tariff tax increases) of the Treasurer’s new tariff tax slugs on PNG families that there are four, not just one but four, tariff lines that are explicit that the new tariff applies to UHT milk. Under the broad tariff category 04.01, titled “Milk and Cream, not concentrated nor containing added sugar or other sweetening matter”, there are four tariff items depending on the level of fat in milk. For all four levels of fat content, there is an explicit line that states “UHT processed in retail sale packages” and that the tariff rate has gone from “Free” to “25%”. The “retail sale packages” refers simply to the containers that the UHT milk is sold in, such as 1 litre of Paul’s UHT milk. Let me include a detailed photo of one the sections below showing the very clear application to UHT milk – all four tariff lines showing the application of the new 25% tariff are in the attachments.
The Treasurer’s repeated factual errors on this point are extremely worrying. Photos showing the changes in the tariff act introduced as part of the 2019 Budget were included in my previous media release and were included in coverage such as on PNG Loop. His similar misleading statements from last year were also included. Why didn’t he even check with what I was saying and the evidence provided? Why does he still come out and deny the truth? Is he a lying Treasurer or just an incompetent Treasurer? Did he even tell NEC that the price of UHT milk was going up by 25%? Do the members of his own PNC know that the price of UHT milk was going up by 25%?
Treasurer Abel lacks the attention to detail, the ability to acknowledge a mistake, the policy wisdom and the business acumen to be the Treasurer of this great nation. The Prime Minister who appointed him is equally responsible. This is just further evidence that both should be replaced. It is time for a change to a new and honest government! The next four parts of my response will go into other misleading and unbalanced claims from the Treasurer” stated Mr Ling-Stuckey.
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance
8 January 2019
As part of the 2019 Budget, the PNC government introduced changes to the Customs Tariff Bill. An extract of the first two pages of this bill is below. These make it very clear that the 25% tax tariff increase for milk products applies to UHT milk. UHT milk on average has a fat content of around 3.1% to 3.6%, and is clearly covered in the new tax increases under item 0401.20.10. The Treasurer is lying. There are 37 pages in this bill and it can be obtained from the PNG Treasury website. These two pages of extracts also show the tax tariff increases in other products such as fresh chicken, packaged flour and canned fish. The list goes on and on.
Following is the response from Treasurer Abel to my analysis of the tax tariff increases that will slug PNG families from 1 January 2019. This five part set of articles will dissect all of his misleading, erroneous, ignorant and unbalanced response.
Timely to remember his similar misleading response to the 2018 budget – it seems the increases to UHT were only because he failed to work with his besties to get the legislative drafting right!