Do not politicise APEC, O’Neill tells Opposition

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill called on the Opposition to show maturity as PNG prepares to host APEC, and not try to politicise these important national events.

Prime Minister O’Neill made the comments after Opposition member, Northern Governor Gary Juffa, stated that the K600 million can be used to fund crucial government services.

“The budget for APEC in 2017 will be significantly less than the false K600 million that the Opposition has taken out of thin air,” PM O’Neill said in a statement.

“Figures are being worked through now by our budget teams and will be further revised for the 2018 budget.

“Half of the expenditure on APEC next year will be an investment in the military and security of our nation.

“This includes strengthening border security at arrival points not only in Port Moresby but around the country. We also have support of our regional partners, particularly Australia, the United States and New Zealand,” said the PM.

“This includes fighter jet coverage above Port Moresby during the APEC summit and Navy ships that will be moored offshore.

“These ships will have medical facilities and will partner with our military for the deployment of Special Forces to deal with any threat.”

The Prime Minister said APEC will bring great opportunity for Papua New Guinea. It goes beyond promoting the nation to the international community and improving security; it will also enhance regional policy development in areas such as agriculture, marine resources, tourism and SMEs.

Meanwhile, Governor Juffa said with the current economic condition and expected cuts to government expenditures in the 2017 National Budget, the money can be put to good use.

“In 2017, every province will be receiving far less than they have requested for,” said Juffa.

“They will be getting less than the 2016 allocation. 

“Reduced services in health are a certain death sentence to many of our people in rural PNG, a staggering 85 percent of our population.

“The Government has assured us that it is not overspending before the elections, as has been the trend in the past. It is claiming that it is being ‘cautious and prudent’.

“For PNG, APEC does nothing whatsoever to improve the quality of health or education services for the average person,” Juffa said.

Charles Yapumi