MEDIA STATEMENT
Tuesday 30 April 2019

 

The Shadow Attorney General and Member for Sinasina Yonggomugl Honourable Kerenga Kua MP, expressed disappointment with a statement released by People’s National Congress stalwart and the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Hon. Charles Abel MP on the latest ratings report by Standard and Poor.

When responding Mr. Kua stated, “These are incredible lies that are being told. I am unclear what positive fiscal outlook Treasurer Abel and PNC are referring to. Under PNC debt has increased sharply. The government is raiding our regulatory and state owned enterprises to artificially boost its coffers and even after this, government operations are still hampered by severe cash-flow problems. The PNC Government really is running short of money.”

He further noted that “Under PNC, Papua New Guinea’s rating was downgraded last year, and all that has happened this year is that Standard and Poor has reported that under O’Neill’s stewardship PNG doesn’t deserve an upgrade. Until there is regime change the true outlook is for more hardship and misery for most Papua New Guineans.”

Mr. Kua further stated that “the Final Budget Outcome Report for 2018 understated the budget deficit in the order of K100 million. The Government was being deliberately deceptive by excluding wages arrears in its 2018 budget report. Our hardworking teachers and public servants are being deliberately underpaid. The Government’s new fiscal accounting standard is accrual based and so once an expense is accrued it must be recorded. This was not done with the wages and salaries arrears for 2018.”

Mr. Kua scoffed at the Treasurer’s statement saying “The omission of at K100 million in expenses from the budget directly contradicts Treasurer Abel’s claim that the Government is transparent and accountable.”
In explaining this Mr. Kua pointed out that “the Minister for Public Service took out a notice in the daily newspapers on 24 April 2019 clarifying the concerns raised by teachers on the 3% salary increase implementation. This notice stated that and I quote “the 2017 3% increase has been fully paid by the Government in 2018. What is outstanding now is for the 2018 and 2019 3% wage rise for all public servants”.

We have a public admission by Government that teachers and public servants are not being paid their just dues.”

“What Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Treasurer Charles Abel are doing is forcing hard working public servants and teachers to finance the budget by simply underpaying them. And then they gloat and proudly announce that the fiscal outlook is good. How can this possibly be good when you impose such a harsh penalty on our people? Have they no shame? Have they no heart for the suffering of ordinary Papua New Guineans?”

“Withholding the increased pay has real costs for our teachers and public servants in the following ways:

  1. According to the National Statistic Office annual inflation is running at just under 5%. So the pay-packets of teachers and public servants, even if they got the 3% increase, are not keeping up with inflation. Each fortnight, their pay packets cannot buy the same basket of goods and services. Their inflation adjusted pay is falling by 2%.
  2. However, O’Neill and Abel want to rub salt into the wounds of our people, so even this paltry increase of 3% is not even being paid. So in fact the inflation adjusted pay of teachers and public servants is actually falling by around 5%.
  3. Finally, the increase in the base salary feeds through to their entitlements and to their superannuation benefits. The amount that teachers and public servants contribute to superannuation, as well as the Government contribution, was smaller by 3% last year and with compounding by around 6% in 2019. This contribution is invested by our superannuation funds. For 2018 public servants would have earned 3.7% on this component but this has been lost because the Government did not pay what teachers and public servants are legally entitled to.

Mr. Kua concluded by challenging Prime Minister O’Neill and Treasurer Abel “I say to you O’Neill and Abel – shame on you both! You are not creating jobs in the economy for ordinary Papua New Guineans and now you penalize those hardworking decent Papua New Guineans that actually have jobs by underpaying them and stealing their superannuation funds.

Kerenga Kua MP
Shadow Attorney General & Former Minister for Justice & Attorney General