PNG Opposition Slams Government For ‘Excessive’ Spending

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PM’s ‘globe-trotting trip’ condemned as MPs paid late

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 11, 2012) – Members of Parliament in Papua New Guinea did not receive their salaries last week consequently fuelling riot in the opposition over excessive spending by the current government.

The member for Bulolo Sam Basil has slammed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his coalition Government for taking expensive overseas trips which can only add to the K513.2 million [US$245.2 million] deficit already recorded in July.

Fired-up by the non-payment of MPs’ salaries last week, Mr. Basil who is the deputy opposition leader said "This is very irresponsible of the O’Neill-Dion Government. How can a large entourage go on what can be described as an expensive globe-trotting trip to China and Russia when the nation is still stunned by a half year report of over a half million kina deficit?"

"Depressed commodity prices resulted in loss of revenue but Prime Minister O’Neill cannot explain away the fact that there has been an over-expenditure of K120 million [US$57.3 million] that has added onto the K513.2 million." Mr. Basil decried.

"And on top of this, what is this report of borrowings of K5 billion [US$2.4 billion] for infrastructure? Does the Government know the implications of this on the high liquidity within the commercial banks in addition to the PNG LNG Project construction phase?"

Mr. Basil said that the Government should be focused on reining in expenditure instead of running wild on a spending spree.

"This is time for belt-tightening yet the O’Neill-Dion Government seems hell-bent on sending the country into an abyss of debt – and borrowing to feed this habit.

"I fear that much of our future revenue – from the PNG LNG Projects and new upcoming mining and petroleum projects will be mortgaged to pay for this loan.

"We are not only living beyond our means but living off the future revenues meant for the future welfare and well-being of our children and grandchildren," the Deputy Leader of Opposition said.

Meanwhile, in regards to the MPs salaries, the Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc said yesterday that this has been an ongoing issue and has assured parliamentarians that he would get to the bottom of it.

He said, "It is an administrative matter that has been brought to my attention and upon calling the Clerk of Parliament yesterday, I was notified that the Department of Finance had done a late bank transfer last Friday."

Members of parliament didn’t receive their salaries until around 12pm yesterday.

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