PNG Parliament Passes Budget

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Opposition calls proposal ‘planned deception’

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 26, 2014) – The 2015 budget is nothing more than a hoax, a planned deception, for theft and corruption, the Opposition said in its budget reply yesterday.

The K16.19 billion [US$6.2 billion] budget, presented by Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch last Tuesday, was passed last night, at 7 o’clock and Parliament adjourned to Wednesday.

Kandep MP Don Polye presented the budget reply earlier in the afternoon, saying the budget presentation was most embarrassing and unprofessional.

Mr Polye said it lacked transparency as he rebutted the taxation measures, revenue forecasts, questioned the need for 2013 and 2014 deficit budgets and the massive public debt financing.

He said the total expenditure for 2014 grew over K16 billion, beyond budgeted limits without creating shared wealth and prosperity neither creating sustainable economic growth, for Papua New Guineans, to be proud of. He said the Government had focused on spending money in a few centres and non-priority areas, and blowing the budget by about K1 billion (K879.3m) with a huge debt of unplanned, unbudgeted K3 billion and costly commercial loan, raising the public debt levels to K17,488.4 million.

Mr Polye said the 2014 supplementary budget could have been a windfall budget if the Government had not incurred K879.3 million unbudgeted expenditure, did not take a huge loan (K3bn UBS loan) that squeezed K204.3 million out of the State and if the K600m State assets sales were done competently.

He said the windfall would be about K500 million, as a result of the early sale of the PNG LNG project gas and other revenues.

"This budget blowout has definitely affected the Government’s financing capacity. A good practice is, when a Government builds in a deficit in an annual budget for justifiable reasons like we did for 2013 and 2014, to ensure beforehand that the level of annual deficit can be easily raised in the local economy through the treasury bills or inscribed stock."

Turning to the figures, he said Papua New Guineans would find it absolutely startling that more funds are pumped to Port Moresby City roads and again to the Pacific Games.

"The figures in total spent on these two areas so far add up approximately to over K2 billion," he said.

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