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Development and deficit budget in PNG

Commentary by Hon. James Marape, Member  of Tari Pori,

Hi all out there, development takes time, years in fact to evolve. All it takes is stability and consistency in public policies and efforts for development to happen.

Before I expand on this topic of development and deficit budget, may I firstly thank all who have read my previous posts and offered your commentaries. I am the first to admit that I am no expert in subjects I write on which mostly are my opinions skewed towards my point of view. Secondly some of you wrote contrary to my point view and I accepted them as your points respectively.
In this write up, I am going to discuss on development aspirations in Papua New Guinea and why we in the current O'Niel Dion Government have embarked on a 5 budget deficit budget plan since 2012.
In 2012 when we took office, we looked into the 5 years ( what we describe as the medium term; 2012 to 2017) and we estimated that our total revenue will be less then our development and recurrent expenditure cost. Now the question we asked then was do we sit back handicapped with revenue constraints hence not fund free education, free basic health care, our infrastructure plans, our districts and provinces and etc?

We agreed as a government that we will not sit back but we planned successive deficit budgets to ensure our development targets are met. Today almost into the end of our term results are evident and we stand to be judged on our performance.
Ask education department; they will confirm that one million new children are in our school systems because of free education ( mind you we are working on space and quality aspect as we speak). Most education institutions have new buildings as a result of either national government direct funding ( example 4000 new lodging facility at university of PNG), or PSIP and DSIP for provincial and district schools.

Ask health department; if Port Morseby hospital is transformed, if Lae, Hagen, Madang, Kokopo are seeing changes, ask Enga leadership if we have secured funding their Province's 300 million Kina provincial hospital, ask all provincial hospital CEOs if they have been receiving direct funding from national government starting 2012.

Ask works department; of you can now drive from Kimbe to Kokopo ( never done before 2012), they will tell you 3000 kilometers of new road have been sealed, check Kundiawa to Gembolg, Buluminski highway the last 20km is being sealed, sealing taking place from south to north Bouganvillie ( kokobau Buin road), you drive from pom to Kerema on total sealed road, lae city road improvements and of course port morseby roads. Works are happening in most sections of our most economical road, the highlands highway and it is a work in progress.

Ask the National Airports Corporation; who initiated and funded the Port Moresby international airport, the mt Hagen, Hoskins and Goroka terminals, the Aropa airport and terminal or Girua airport as a case in point, ask tourism promotion authority on what is happening at gurney airport in Alotau. Check if Kundiawa and other airports have some small work happening since 2012.
Ask PNG ports; who initiated and funded lae ports, Kieta ports, Kimbe ports, Port Morseby ports, the many small jetties in our coastal areas.

Time and FB space does not permit me to write all that we have undertaken since 2012. All of you PNG citizens come from a district, check your local elected MP for work he or she has done whether as Provincial Governor or District Member.
Contrary to what our oppositions say, on record we as Government directed by our Prime Minister, have given DSIP/PSIP development money equally to all Provinces and Districts including Bulolo. For instance since 2013, 2014 and 2015 we have remitted a total of 30 million kina each to ALL 89 districts in PNG. If nothing is happening in your districts then ask your elected leader at elections, that is your right.

I have post below a picture of a 500 bed and study capacity Technical college and a "3 star type"100 bed hospital my Tari district will soon complete that I had started funding for my district in the last three year as an example of work happening in rural PNG as a result of direct money transfer from national government to sub national government agencies unlike in the past where national governments tries to do all.

All these we were able to do because we deliberately structured plans to enter a series of responsible deficit budgets. If you interested all you have to do is read our 2012 budget documents.
Why deficit budget? Because money available in one year is not enough to meet all our development needs.
Is deficit budget only done in PNG? Ask any Australian economist and they will tell you the first 40 years since the world war 2 ended (1945) they structured deficit budgets. Infact last year 2015, their national Debt to GDP was 213%. Their national history is littered with deficit budgets and their accumulated national debt is way higher then ours which presently sits at 29%.

I am presently reading a book written by "Vern Gowdie" published in 2015 and he writes that the most established economies are in huge national debt incurred over many years. For instance Japan 400%, USA 233%, China 217%, Singapore 382%, Philippines 116%, Vietnam 140%, Indonesia 88% to name few countries that we in PNG are familiar with. These countries build their nation and economies by transferring national debt into improving their economy and country in general. Don't listen to glass house economist who wants us to individually remain below poverty lines.

The roads, ports, airports, schools, health and other interventions are national assets acquired through sustainable deficit financing to grow our economy for our children's future.
For us in PNG, in the last four years our debt remains sustainable low and at amounts below 35 percent as required by our fiscal responsibility act. In fact with revised figures in our economic base released recently both by our central bank and national statistical office, our debt to GDP stands at 29 percent.
May I encourage every one out there that we in government are concern about our country just as much as you all concern. We doing our utmost best within confines of constraints we currently faced with, like the 70 % slash in national revenue ( 2014/2015/2016) both from drought related non production at Oktedi and the drop in global oil prices.

If you think that we not doing well leading this country, then in 2017, you have every right to remove the mandate majority of you, our voters gave us in 2012. But for now we will complete the few development tasks we have left to do for this term, including upgrade and sealing completion of untouched sections of the highlands highways like Halimbu to Komo, and Halimbu to Kelabo.
My next post will be on you, citizens and the importance of your constitutional section 50 rights, rights to vote leaders at elections.

Keep in touch. We have many international visitors, head of states, leaders of public services, businesses leaders, sports ( international soccer and cricket). Let's not talk ourselves down all time , see in the positive always.

Photo caption: This photo shows my district's hospital and Technical school campus that we are putting final touches now, an example of DSIP at work.

The writer is a Member of Parliament representing the people of Tari Pori in Hela Province. 

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