Deputy PM and Treasurer defends Budget 2018 as ‘not FAKE’
BY GORETHY KENNETH
Treasury Minister Charles Abel has defended the 2018 Budget, saying it is not a “fake” but one that includes visions for the people despite challenges in efforts to stimulate the economy.
Mr Abel also defended the “cost of living to rise” revenue measures which were done to protect the interest of local industries and support PNG-owned manufacturers.
The irate Deputy Prime Minister Abel said yesterday there were many good things about the budget that was passed 95-0 unanimously this week, singling out that the reports in this week’s two front page Post-Courier reports negatively portrayed the budget.
“Post-Courier has ignored the hard work that we did in the 2018 Budget, and instead chosen to go with the nonsense and comments made by the Opposition. Where’s the balance? This is a very significant budget,” Mr Abel said.
“The budget was passed unanimously this week, and on voices, and the newspaper has printed nothing positive about the budget – two important supporting legislation passed 95-0, but this was ignored,” he said.
“So you need to understand the reforms that we are doing so that you can understand all these – for example – why we have a big foreign exchange issue when we have a huge current account surplus.
“Foreign exchange surplus means on the books what we export is much more than what we are importing.
“We export billions and billions of US dollars worth of raw materials from our logs and gas, which are our two major, but why do we have on the financial account, they don’t match, and in other words the financial flows that make the good flows – so physical flows, the value is much higher than what we import. That surplus doesn’t reflect in our foreign exchange balance, so we need to examine all these structural issues in our economy that means we put onto the short term.
“And we are also working on some other long-term issues, replacing some of the imports on our food and fuel, and we see some of the tariff changes that we have done but again – Post-Courier only chooses the negative side of it.
“These are relatively small changes, we can make our own soap, we can make our own shampoo, we make our own new products, our own coconut oil, simple things like that, we import oil, when we manufacture them, many of us import canned tuna when we have our own canned tuna. We just have to support our own industries so the value remains within giving jobs to our Papua New Guineans. Otherwise, how we going to move our economy that, when we send our tuna overseas, and send our oil palm overseas, and coconut overseas and we import coconut oil for goodness sake, we import soap, you know we don’t have to import these things, we can make them here in Papua New Guinea.
“But we need to slowly support the industries to encourage them to develop our economy. Some of these overseas people have a very cost-effective economy. We are slowly moving that way, but if we don’t encourage our industry with a bit of help, we will never get there, so look at the budget in the totality of all these reforms that I am bringing, so you can see the picture.
“Don’t jump straight to what the Opposition say, a fake budget – this is not a fake budget. I worked so hard to make those figures. The bill that was passed yesterday, Revenue Regulation Bill, allowing finance to skip all bank accounts, is very, very important. That is why the money is going to spike up and it’s outside of the budget.
“It’s not an easy task, I can tell you, when cash flow is tight, so that’s why we are focusing on revenue,” he said.
Source: Post-Courier Online.