Treasurer put on Notice

Former Prime Minister and Member for Ialibu-Pangia MP, Peter O’Neill has put Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey on notice after asking for a proper report of COVID-19 funds on the floor of Parliament today.

Mr O’Neill asked the Treasurer to explain the COVID-19 loans that are adding up into billions of Kina.

“Can you assure this House where you are spending this money, so that our people and our country can be aware of the spending the Government is doing to stop the spreading of the COVID-19 in the country.

“Could you give us the exact time frame you will lodge the full report of this loans,” O’Neill asked.

O’Neill said the reason for raising this concern is because the funding are from international organisations that will be repaid by our country and our people.

He also asked the Treasurer to explain the two reports released recently from Moody International Rating Agency that confirms the shortfall of our internal revenue of K2.7 billion which rated our economy from stable to negative.

“Are you aware that the Central Bank has released a Monetary Policy Statement recently which indicates that our economy has declined by two percent by 2020 and continues to project a further decline in 2021.

“What is your Office doing to address the decline of over 5 percent of our economy which is a substantial decline given the state of the economy we are in,” he said.

Mr O’Neill further asked the Treasurer to confirm whether our economy is in recess given the increasing amount of loans and the decline in the exchange rate which resulted in no foreign currencies in the country.   

“Inflation is going up.

“Prices of tinned fish and rice are going up and investor confidence is down while the rate of unemployment is going up rapidly,” he said.

“What is your office doing to address these issues?”

The former Prime Minister said we are into the first quarter of 2021 and warrants are yet to be release by Treasury.

He said no operational funding have been released to hospitals and Government institutions across the country either, to continue the service to citizens.

O’Neill further asked Ling-Stuckey to confirm or deny whether Warrants are authorized by consultants in Canberra before it would be released by officials in Waigani.   

However, Treasurer Ian Ling Stuckey said he is yet to asses fully the Moody’s Ratings which was released recently about the country’s economy rating and will respond later in writing.

Mr Ling-Stuckey confirmed that K5.7 billion of COVID-19 funding has been spent exactly on what it was budgeted for, by the Government.

He brushed aside media reports that claimed there was misuse.

The Treasurer clarified that of the K5.7b, a K2.5b COVID-19 bond was raised successfully last year despite a fragile economy.

“All of these funds supported all of our budgeted activities last year and not just health but also education, law and order, and infrastructure,” he said.

The Treasurer said a full detail on the economic stimulus package will be table in Parliament tomorrow.

More to come…

Freddy Mou