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Huge Funding cuts for Education could kill TFF policy : Pruaitch

Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch said today free education has received a fatal budget cut in the 2018 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

He said: “The revised MYEFO budget has slashed funding for the Department of Education by K601.3 million to K275.5 million with K191.2 million to be disbursed in the second half of this year.

“If these figures are not urgently revised a major financial crisis will engulf the education system and schools throughout the country with no explanation given by the government for the dramatic cut back in funding.

“Many schools in various provinces are already in deep trouble because some K60 million in Tuition Free Fee funding has yet to be distributed from last year.”

Mr. Pruaitch said no reason was provided for the big cut in education funding.

“This government is flush with more funds than any government in our history, with total revenue this year projected to rise by K1.4 billion to K12.94 billion compared with the record revenue received last year.”

Mr. Pruaitch said it is highly ironical that in the year PNG is playing host to the APEC Summit the only other department to face a budget cut from the 2018 national budget allocation has been the troubled Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where funding was cut by K6.4 million to K32.5 million.

“PNG staff at foreign missions have suffered financial hardships in recent years because of inadequate funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs. These problems can only become worse in the year ahead.”

While education and foreign affairs suffered major funding cuts, the revised MYEFO budget gave significant increases to departments that included:

·         Prime Minister and NEC, up K14.1 million to K170.7 million;

·         Department of Treasury, up K8.4 million to K148.6 million;

·         Department of Personnel Management, up K10.5 million to K98.4 million;

·         Electoral Commission, up K16.7 million to K38.3 million and

·         Provincial and Local Government Affairs, up K14.6 million to K57.2 million.

Mr. Pruaitch said the public at large would continue to suffer from the double standards and economic mismanagement of the O’Neill-Abel Government.

“The massive government borrowing in the past five years has pushed debt servicing costs beyond K2 billion for the first time, the equivalent payment of K250 annually for every man, woman and child in this country.

“Interest payments are the fastest rising component in the National Budget and is more than twice the level of the operational Education Budget. The 2018 MYEFO has forecast debt servicing will hit K2,148.7 million in 2018. (Attachment A in 2018 MYEFO)

“In its efforts to make the 2018 budget look good the government under-estimated the debt servicing costs by K284 million last November. Debt servicing costs have risen by K615.99 million since 2017.”
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