Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Charles Abel, recently said the Government remains committed to closing the 2018 accounts in a disciplined manner to ensure they start on a clean state.
In response, Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey, said Treasurer Abel needs to ensure that the government actually pays all its bills.
“This means fully paying schools and health centres their promised budgeted funds. It means paying infrastructure contractors for work properly done under legitimate contracts.
“It means paying the full level of K10 million DSIP and PSIP funds to both government and non-government members rather than the current corrupt and illegal practice of trying to buy votes by withholding DSIP funds from Opposition MPs,” stated Ling-Stuckey, who is also the Kavieng MP.
“When Kavieng District is given only K1 million instead of K2 million like all other Government MPs last month, the Member for Kavieng isn’t punished, my people in Kavieng are punished.
“But they have long memories! It includes meeting all of our constitutional obligations such as our K500,000 annual District Support Grants payments.
“It means honouring agreements such as payment of annual functional grants to provinces for health, education and roadworks and other services which was part of the revenue sharing deal with the national government over GST collections.
“New Ireland alone must be owed more than K50 million despite my Governor being one of the first to travel to Alotau and form the O’Neill-Abel Government! It means clearing any backlog of legitimate claims of landowners. It means ensuring full payment of wages and allowances to all loyal public servants, including our wonderful teachers and health workers.
“However, my fear is that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister will once again prioritise payments to the private sector rather than in the interests of the country as a whole.
“In providing his lame excuse for why he didn’t even inform conference organisers that he would not be presenting at the high profile 15th annual Mining and Petroleum Investment conference, the Treasurer actually admitted that he has been misleading PNG about the true state of the budget. The Treasurer stated ‘we tend to roll over some of the commitments to the next budget. That can leave a hole in the beginning of the year trying to complete all the commitments from previous years’’.
“When I look at this as a business person, this simply strikes me as being illegal. When a business does its end of year accounts, it has to state its level of legitimate unpaid bills and other liabilities. It is extraordinary that the government does not have to do this,” stated the Shadow Treasurer.
“This failure to disclose unpaid bills is one key reason why I was so critical of the 2017 Final Budget Outcome. Clearly the result reflected unpaid bills.
“We know this included over K400 million in public servant salary bills according to figures released later under the MYEFO. But we don’t know how many billions of Kina there are in other unpaid bills.
“We need more honesty and transparency. We need to ensure that the PNG government can be trusted to pay its bills on time,” stated Ling-Stuckey.
(Filepic_ Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey)