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The Post-Courier Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

August 6, 2002

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his team face tough times ahead as they settle down to run the new Papua New Guinea Government.

Their first agenda item will have to be to revise the 2002 Budget in light of the serious financial crisis the nation now finds itself.

Government spending will have to be seriously curtailed and the new Somare-led team will have to be merciless across the board in order to ensure that the country can survive through the remainder of this year.

Spending should be restricted only to essential services and commitments made by the former regime will have to be put under the microscope and butchered if they fall within the category of non-essential services.

All departments and statutory bodies must be ordered to revise their budgets and to ensure they keep spending down to the bare minimum. The Government should also ensure it does not pay MPs their slush funds for the remainder of this year until the financial situation improves.

The Chief has a team of new and returned MPs who collectively bring to the new Government a wide range of expertise and experience and who no doubt will provide the leadership needed to tackle the many problems and challenges facing PNG at this present time.

The nation should not expect miracles to happen overnight and definitely no handouts.

The focus must be on getting the economy back on track and one of the most pressing needs is to fix our major transport infrastructures such as the Highlands Highway to resuscitate the economy of the Highlands region where most of our major natural resources — oil, gas and mining — are located.

Discussions should also be initiated between the new Government and the business sector so that both are seen to be actively working together to revitalize the economy.

The people through their elected representatives yesterday gave The Chief their resounding vote of confidence to lead PNG forward over the next five years. It is now up to him and his team to translate that vote of confidence into tangible changes for a prosperous future.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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