PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 26) – The Papua New Guinea government’s plans to increase taxes on income, bank withdrawals and sales and services is meeting opposition from workers. The fortnightly pay packet is already under intense pressure and it is not surprising that our street surveys have revealed a strong opposition to the plans. 

The surveys are not representative of the entire workforce in the country, but over the past few years, there has been growing signs of resentment among ordinary workers about the high cost of living in Papua New Guinea.

The cost of basic food items — rice, tinned fish, corned beef, sugar, milk and more — have risen to astronomical levels causing severe hardships for many families. 

The economy has not made any real recovery since the new administration came into power despite all the political rhetoric from Waigani. 

Added to that, the cost of education and health services have risen sharply over the past few years, forcing workers to dig deeper into pockets that are already empty of funds.

The Government needs to carefully consider any proposals from its advisers about increasing personal income tax. It needs to be careful that it does not force more people below the poverty line as a result of its attempt to bridge shortfalls in the 2003 budget. 

The decision to grant more tax concessions to the mining sector to encourage more mineral prospecting in the country has forced the nation into the present state of affairs. 

The Government needs to be careful that it does not make the ordinary workers pay more to make up for the tax concessions it has granted to multi-national mining companies. 

Workers are also asking questions about the whereabouts of the unions in PNG. More so the PNG Trade Union Congress which has been the main voice of the workers for a long time. This is the time when workers need their unions to speak out on their behalf — yet the unions have become so silent. 

One wonders if their independence has not been compromised by close association with the Government of the day.

August 26, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:


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