Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch said it has been confirmed by the Central Bank’s December quarterly report that more than one in 10 people employed in the formal sector lost their jobs last year in the National Capital District.
Pruaitch released a statement saying in spite of the hundreds of millions of Kina spent by the National and NCD governments on roads and building projects in Port Moresby, employment in the national capital has fallen to its lowest levels in eight years.
According to BPNG December report, 11.1 percent of workers in NCD lost their jobs last year, while 3.9 percent lost jobs nationwide.
Pruaitch said if the minerals sector was excluded, 4.8 percent of jobs or about one in 20 of all non-mining sector jobs were lost throughout the country.
He described the current situation as a “social disaster in the making”.
He added that in other countries, governments would have reacted with urgent policy measures to counteract declining employment, but the O’Neill-Abel Government has made conditions even more difficult for the private sector.
The Opposition leader claimed that one of PNG’s highly regarded companies, Steamships, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in PNG this year, was forced to lay off stevedoring workers in Port Moresby and Lae after the National Government brought in an overseas port operator without consulting local business.
He reiterated that many companies also curtailed their operations because of outstanding unpaid national government debts amounting to hundreds of millions of Kina.
However, the Prime Minister responded and told this newsroom that the downturn in the economy over the past two years is well documented and known.
“That is why our government has mobilised resources to agriculture, tourism and SME, including construction of housing as drivers to growth in employment,” Peter O’Neill stated.
“In fact, employment is slowly picking up as the economic conditions improve.”
O’Neill said the opposition leader’s statement is based on outdated data of the past two years.
He added that the commodity prices have improved substantially since.
(Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch during last week’s Parliament sitting)