In a statement, Shadow Minister and Kavieng MP, Ian Ling-Stuckey, said so much has been spent on a Port Moresby centred APEC – now was the time to deliver the policies that could tap into all of the potential benefits of APEC and distribute them throughout PNG.
“This opportunity has been squandered. Instead, the 2019 Budget has dished up anti-APEC policies such as new taxes on trade and protectionist language. We have demonstrated that we are not being honest in our budget policy with misleading facts and hidden figures,” Ling-Stuckey stated.
“This is a big-spending and fiscally irresponsible budget that abandons our new fiscal anchors. This is a disappointing day for the children of PNG, and the O’Neill/Abel government should be ashamed.
“The Alternative Government is a supporter of APEC. However, we have not been supportive of the expensive way that it has been implemented with numerous questions about contracts that should be referred to auditors. Unfortunately, items such as the Maseratis and Bentleys have unnecessarily damaged our international reputation and raised serious questions from our people about Waigani’s priorities.
“There was some chance to counter these concerns with the introduction of good policies in the 2019 Budget building on the ideals of APEC. Indeed, I had hoped that there were going to be some major, even visionary announcements in this budget given it was presented just a few days before the final APEC leaders meeting.
“The Alternative Government is deeply disappointed with the 2019 Budget. Instead, it is a two-faced budget where the sweet promises are not supported by the facts. Getting more investment into PNG, and providing more opportunities for our people to get jobs and higher incomes, meant putting better policies in place.
“How embarrassing to walk into APEC without correcting our anti-APEC protectionist policies of the last year and then include even more tariff increases. How embarrassing to be caught out using fake GDP figures to prop up fake revenue streams. Goodness – even our own National Statistics Office says the economy was K5 billion smaller back in 2015 than the fake figures used by the Treasurer.
“This deliberate over-statement of the size of the economy means that the actual debt to GDP ratio is now well over 35 percent - a truth the Treasurer seeks to hide in this budget in the same way that Greece tried to hide its fake fiscal numbers before its financial crisis.
“How embarrassing to abandon our fiscal anchor, the new benchmark for our fiscal discipline of the non-resource primary balance, by quadrupling the size of the deficit under this new benchmark from the promised K442 million in 2019 to K1,772.7 million in 2019.
“A K1,330 million blow-out between the 2019 Budget Strategy just two months ago and the 2019 Budget delivered on November 13th. How embarrassing to have such a big spending, irresponsible budget just when we told our international friends that we could be trusted with any resource revenue bonus.
“The best parts of this budget is that it did not include the planned tax increases of a turnover tax on mobile phones and a capital gains tax. Some common sense finally by this government. There are many more effective ways to raise revenues in a simple, equitable and efficient way.
“The greatest regret, beyond all of its internationally embarrassing components, is the missed opportunity of a new vision for the people of this country that we could have taken to APEC over the coming days. Fortunately, for the people of PNG and its representatives, there is an Alternative.
“The failures of this 2019 Budget, its missed opportunities, its deceptions and inconsistencies, its failure to deliver a realistic way forward means that it will become a further symbol of why PNG needs change. I look forward to presenting a more believable and better vision for this country in my Budget response next Tuesday,” stated Ling-Stuckey.
(Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey)