Opposition ready to debate 2018 Budget

The Opposition stands ready to debate the 2018 budget the Government will present this week in parliament.

Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey, in a statement said last year the O'Neill government, lacking the usual transparency, did not allow proper debate on the 2017 budget.

"We stand ready to judge the success of the 2018 budget and urge government to give the Opposition opportunity to measure its merits.

"Government should not trivialise the most important of this annual policy statement by rushing it through because a budget translates policies into concrete actions by providing resources.

“It is the document that makes the hard choices on how much we need to tax, how much we should spend and on what, and how we finance any gaps.”

He said the Opposition has prepared questions to ask the Government when they table the 2018 budget.

Ling-Stuckey further questioned the Government whether the 2018 Budget is credible enough to serve the people.

“Will this budget be credible from the perspective of a business person looking to grow their business and employ more people?

“How well does the government plan to spend its people's money?”

He said the government has budget austerity in the key areas for PNG’s development yet spends large in the areas such as the oversized public service.

The shadow Minister claimed that the government has been pretending that it has protected the health sector when budget figures clearly indicated that it was cut by 20 percent in the 2017 budget.

“The government has claimed that it protected vital infrastructure spending when we know that it has been slashed from K2.8 billion in 2014 down to only K1.1 billion in 2017.

“Large cuts have also been made in the education and law and order areas in recent years.”

Meantime, Parliament will resume tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov 28, at 10am.

Freddy Mou