Treasurer clears confusion on Appropriation Bill

Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch gave an assurance last night that the 2017 National Budget involved a total revenue of K11.09 billion with expenditure pegged at K12.96 billion for an overall deficit of K1.88 biIlion.

Pruaitch issued a statement after confusion arose from the Opposition about the figures in the Appropriation Bill for 2017.

“These are the figures provided in my budget address, last week and included in Volume 2 and 3 of the budget documents released in Parliament, which uses standardised Government Financial Statistics 1986 data,” Pruaitch said.

Confusion arose over this matter in Parliament last night after Opposition Leader Don Poyle accused the Government of Providing misleading budget deficit figures because the Appropriation Bill for 2017 stood at an overall total of K21.4 billion.

However, Pruaitch said what was not understood by the Opposition Leader and some other MPs was that the K21.4 billion appropriations figure included K8.5 billion in short term public sector debt that needed to be rolled over in 2017.

“The K8.5 billion figure also includes debt finance for the 2017 Budget,” Pruaitch said, noting that when short term public sector debt occurs it is customary for the Government to roll this over. .

Pruaitch explained that if the Government rolled over a lesser figure than the K8.5 billion reflected in the Appropriation Bill, the PNG Government’s total debt stock would decline in a dramatic fashion and would force the economy to contract.

“This is what we have been trying to avoid in 2012. These deficits have enabled expenditure levels in education, health, and District level spending,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition in a conference last night said  they will challenge the passage of the 2017 Budget in the Supreme Court.

Freddy Mou