FORMER PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey yesterday, to tell people “the truth” about the state of the economy.
“Ninety per cent of the population do not believe in what you (Ling-Stuckey) are saying because of the reality they are facing every day,” he said.
“(The) reality is (that) people are losing jobs everywhere.
“We need to be honest, it’s not about political point scoring in here.
“(The) treasurer needs to stop.
“The only person who believes in you is your prime minister.”
In a heated exchange of words with Ling-Stuckey, O’Neill said he did not mind being “insulted, intimidated and arrested because I am a public figure”.
“But you can never silence me as long as I enjoy the mandate of my people,” he said.
Ling-Stuckey said the Government was committed to “lifting growth to at least five per cent per annum in the important parts of the economy, the non-resource sector”.“
The basic message is that there are business opportunities across the economy,” he said.
“Now is a good time to invest in PNG and I am pleased that we exceeded our 10,000 jobs per year target in the 12 months to June 2022.”
But O’Neill told Parliament, amid interjections from Ling-Stuckey that there were no jobs available and families were suffering. “Let’s focus on the cost of living and let us try to get inflation under control,” O’Neill said.
“Let us try to create more jobs by ensuring we have a conducive business environment.
“Get the Papua LNG, Wafi-Golpu, Pasca and P’nyang projects off the ground.
“These are the investments that will create thousands of jobs.”
He said the Government lost almost K3 billion in the past three years when the Porgera mine was closed.
“You wouldn’t have to go to International Monetary Fund to borrow if you had kept Porgera going,” he said.
O’Neill was commenting on a ministerial statement by Ling-Stuckey on the economy.
He said it was the “second statement in less than two weeks on the economy by a treasurer in this Parliament”.
“I’ve been around here for over 20 years and I’ve never seen this before,” he said.
“The growth of Gross Domestic Product does not mean there is prosperity for everyone in this country.
“Focus on the cost of living in this country, the (high) price of goods and services is affecting every family.
“If you have not been to the shops lately, please try go shopping once in a while and you will see the real struggles families are facing.
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