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PNG lost 120,000 jobs, says Ling-Stuckey

Labour Day on May 6 was a day of mourning instead of celebrations because PNG lost 120,000 jobs under the current government.

This is according to shadow treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey who said there should be 470,000 jobs in PNG but instead there were only 350,000.

He said this was evident from the employment indices used by the Bank of Papua New Guinea and using the 2011 national census figures.

He said the impacts flowed down through every province like for example 11,000 lost job opportunities in Morobe, 10,000 in Eastern Highlands and more than 4000 in Bougainville.

He said these lost jobs also meant lost government revenue – a loss of at least K1.7 billion (US$503 million) in 2018 alone.

Ling-Stuckey said this when making comparative analysis of job creation between the NA-led government period and the O’Neill governments.

“Before O’Neill came to power, there were some 15,000 new jobs being created every year. Since O’Neill has been in power, there have actually been massive job losses averaging 8700 jobs per annum.

This isn’t just jobless growth as I once considered, this is actually job-destroying fake growth,” Ling-Stuckey said.

He said the 120,000 job losses were larger the entire populations of all districts and equivalent to six LNG projects at the peak of their construction stages.

Ling-Stuckey said the K1.7 billion in lost revenue was adequate to wipe out Papua New Guinea’s entire budget deficit.

“Under reasonable assumptions, an extra 34 per cent in the workforce should have lifted personal income tax by 34 per cent. Using the latest 2018 Final Budget Outcome tax statistics, the K3101.9 million(US$918,000) that was collected would have been 34 per cent higher if there were another 120,000 jobs. “This would have amounted to an extra K1,056.4m (US$312,000) in budget revenue,” he said.

He said fewer jobs meant less money spent on the economy and lower taxes on goods and services.

“K1.7 billion (US$503 million) is a huge amount of lost revenue.

The O’Neill government can keep talking about the Medium-Term Revenue Strategy.

But this is a secondary issue. Fundamentally, the current regime has dropped the ball on the most important part of getting revenue back to help repair the budget,’’ he said.

They have forgotten about job-creating growth. Instead they have focused on poor policies just to enrich themselves and their besties.”

Meanwhile, the shadow attorney general and MP for Sinasina-Yongomugl Kerenga Kua, expressed disappointment with a statement by People’s National Congress stalwart and the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel on the latest ratings report by Standard and Poors.

In response Kua said these ratings are lies.

“I am unclear what positive fiscal outlook Mr Abel and PNC are referring to,” he said.

“Under PNC debt has increased sharply.

The government is raiding our regulatory and state-owned enterprises to artificially boost its coffers and even after this, government operations are still hampered by severe cash-flow problems. The PNC government really is running short of money.”

He said under PNC, PNG’s rating was downgraded last year, and all that has happened this year is that Standard and Poors had reported that under O’Neill’s stewardship PNG did not deserve an upgrade.

“Until there is regime change the true outlook is for more hardship and misery for most Papua New Guineans,” he said.

He said the final budget outcome report for 2018 understated the budget deficit in the order of K100 million (US$29 million).

“The government was being deliberately deceptive by excluding wages arrears in its 2018 budget report. Our hardworking teachers and public servants are being deliberately underpaid,” Kua said.

“The government’s new fiscal accounting standard is accrual based and so once an expense is accrued it must be recorded.

This was not done with the wages and salaries arrears for 2018.”

Kua scoffed at the treasurer’s statement saying that the omission of at K100 million in expenses from the budget directly contradicted treasurer Abel’s claim that the Government was transparent and accountable.

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