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PNG's 2024 K27 billion Budget Supported Despite Confusion from Opposition


“There was a very active but at times, confused discussion on the PNG  2024 Budget in Parliament on 1 December. The debate extended for over 5 hours. This may be a very positive sign of an active democracy. All the comments that were provided on the 2024 Budget, both positive as well as not so positive, were noted and will be considered” stated the Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey.

“There was a need to correct some serious, factual errors in the Opposition’s budget reply. Based on a misunderstanding of a single chart on page 32 in the thousands of pages of budget documentation, the Shadow Treasurer accused the budget of being misleading and untruthful. This is just factually incorrect. It is extraordinary that a Shadow Treasurer could make stupid mistakes in understanding our economy, and then argue this was a basis for voting against the budget!

“For background, my strong preference is to talk about the non-resource sector of the economy. This covers agriculture, forestry, fishing, transport, construction, retail and wholesale trade and finance industries, and the government sector including teachers and nurses and the police. This is where over 90% of our people earn their incomes, and covers over 95% of our jobs. Formally, it accounts for about 75% of the economy.

“Unfortunately, embarrassingly, the Shadow Treasurer somehow thought the resource economy (only one quarter of the economy), was the whole PNG economy. 

“In 2020 and 2021, there was negative growth in the resource sector. This represented the impacts of COVID-19, maintenance issues at the PNG LNG project, and the closure of Porgera. This is clearly acknowledged in the tables and graphs in the Budget documents. Nothing hidden, nothing misleading.

“But he then

claims that this means that there was negative growth in the whole economy? The resource sector is not the whole economy! Indeed, it is only one-quarter of the economy. This probably reflects a broader issue, that the Opposition only cares about the resource sector!1

“If we look at the whole economy, then real GDP growth was minus 0.8% in 2021, 5.2% in 2022, 2.7% in 2023, and an estimated 5.3% in 2024 (Table provided).  Hardly the three years of negative growth claimed by the Shadow Treasurer. Based on this total misunderstanding of the PNG economy, he then says the Budget is based on falsified numbers and should be voted down? 

“As indicated in my response, it is not clear who is preparing his speeches, but they should be sacked for getting it so wrong on something so important. I can refer him to some foreign advisers to avoid the embarrassment.

“And in terms of growth in the non-resource sector, which shows better how our people are doing on average (knowing that many people are doing it tough), my statement in the Budget is entirely accurate.  Let me quote “This is only the second time in PNG’s post-Independence history where there have been three years in a row of real non-resource growth of over 4.5 per cent – the other period being 2010 to 2012.” 

”The Shadow Treasurer’s opposition to the budget was based on his total misunderstanding of the facts. It is a shame he and the Opposition leader walked out before the vote on the budget. Despite so much Opposition confusion on the facts, I was pleased that the record budget was passed, with great potential for PNG when properly implemented” stated the Treasurer. 

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