“This is the final of a five part response to the failings of the PNC tax tariff policies. The first part of the response focused on how the Treasurer Abel lied about the 25% tax tariff on milk did not apply to UHT products. 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 put forward a constructive suggestion for a new Consumer Council to better protect consumer interests and take into account the cost of living pressures on PNG families. This fourth discussed the timber manufacturing industry as an example of the approach under 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.
As detailed in my last two budget responses, the PNC O’Neill/Abel government is taking us down the wrong path to meet the common objectives of increased PNG jobs and incomes. The PNC is really about increased profits for their besties which can corruptly increase the size of brown envelopes for PNC ministers. The Alternative Government is about better policies to get growth, jobs and incomes growing again while also keeping down cost of living pressures” stated Mr Ling-Stuckey.
“As detailed through the five parts of my response to the misleading, ignorant and unbalanced statement by Treasurer Abel, it can only be concluded that he, and ultimately Prime Minister O’Neill, lack the attention to detail, the ability to acknowledge a mistake, the policy wisdom and the business acumen to be the leaders of this great nation. This is just another piece of evidence that they should both be replaced. We call on other members of Parliament to form a coalition which will truly get jobs and incomes growing again so we can look after our children and make our nation great” stated Mr Ling-Stuckey, Shadow Treasurer.
“Papua New Guinea needs jobs and import replacement. The Government is utilising a range of policies to progress the local production of rice, wheat (for stock feed and flour), local beef and poultry meat and eggs, milk and other dairy products, tuna processing, power from gas and oil, cement, timber and furniture. If we don’t give some support to local industry we will forever be importing our food, energy and exporting all our raw materials and jobs.”
The Alternative Government and Government are in total agreement on the policy objective of increased PNG incomes and more jobs. We want local industry to thrive, to grow, to increasingly sell PNG goods and services throughout the Indo-Pacific region. But we must learn the lessons of our own history and those of other countries in our region on how to transform these great sounding words into practical realities for our people. The problem for PNG is that the PNC government has the wrong policies to deliver on these objectives. They go back to providing a 50% equity subsidy for selected agriculture projects, none of which go through a pre-determined vetting process (including a robust cost-benefit analysis) to confirm they are in the national interest. They then back these up with tariff increases and other forms of protection to increase the profits of these lucky few. Presumably, such firms then provide financial support back to the government. The big losers are PNG consumers, PNG taxpayers, and our children. High levels of debt in an under-performing economy will be the legacy of the PNC government.
Better policy approaches are set out in my budget response to lift growth in the non-resource sector to at least 5% annually. These included measures such as practical support for rural agriculture and improved nutrition, innovative approaches such as increased labour mobility, agreed actions to lower key business costs, a focus on controlling the high cost of living, better government budgets and management in areas such as health and education, better spending in the economic sector rather than just support for government besties, appropriate decentralisation as well as better macro-economic policies – all approaches that would really have a positive impact on local jobs and incomes. And what is missing from Treasurer Abel’s statements is a total disregard for the burden of PNG’s high cost of living on PNG families. It is time for a change to a new and honest government!
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance
14 January 2019