June 14, 2019

Where is PNG’s economic rescue plan?

Commentary By  Hon.Ian Ling-Stuckey,CMG.MP

Former US President Bill Clinton won his historic 1992 election campaign by reminding everyone that parents want to make a better world for their children. Clinton’s focus was on the economy and ensuring there was good economic management. When asked about how politicians win elections, he famously responded “It’s the economy, stupid”.

The first NEC meeting last Wednesday should have focused on how to make PNG a richer black Christian country. An economic rescue plan should have been the first NEC agenda item. The Basil economic rescue plan should have been immediately released after the NEC meeting.

So where is the rescue plan?

Our economy is in crisis! Living standards have dropped by 10% under O’Neill. Health, education and justice delivery are in crisis.
So where is the rescue plan?

The failure to release an economic rescue plan is a disgraceful reflection on the incompetence of the economic team of the new government led by Basil including Abel and Maru. This so-called economic team may best be described adopting Prime Minister Marape’s own words borrowed from the Laguna camp “ The clowns of crown!”. Let’s form a true “crisis team” to save PNG from the failed policies of O’Neill. Let there be good analysis and vision!

The Alternative Government had a powerful, wise and comprehensive “Rescue Plan”. We are ready to take back PNG!

If you want your children to have a better future, you need people in your team that understands how the economy works. If you want to be re-elected, you need to have people in your team that can actually improve living standards over the next two years, people who can get jobs growing again, people who can dig into the detailed figures and go beyond fake numbers to find the truth, and based on true numbers, determine wise ways forward.

Sam Basil is not such a person. He even lacks a university degree. He has not demonstrated the vital capacities for a Treasurer to challenge and put forward different ideas to the Prime Minister. History demonstrates that good and equal talking between the Prime Minister and Treasurer makes for better economic outcomes to lift living standards in-between the political struggles.

Charles Abel is not such a person. He was unable to fix the economy! His poor performance and fake budget and economic numbers means he is not a worthy candidate. He may have good intents, but he lacks the wisdom and business acumen to see through the bad advice he so often receives. And I will show how poor his economic judgement is in his advice to the new Prime Minister in future posts.

Richard Maru is not such a person. He was responsible for releasing the embarrassing “Medium-Term Development Plan III” which was so riddled with errors and mistakes that even the Post Courier editorial asked that it be withdrawn and re-done.

With the greatest of respect, there are others who are putting forward ideas that will absolutely damage the economic credibility of our nation. Beware others in your economic team!

There are some smart ways forward. While the devil is in the detail, the angel is also in the detail – the way forward for lessening the pain of getting out the huge hole that O’Neill, Basil and the clowns of crown and Vele and Bakani and Lepari have dug for this country.

For those wanting to be re-elected in 2022, one must look for a team that can find the best options, that can minimise the pain of the necessary medicine, that can be smart in knowing how to get out of the hole.

This will require a team able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, that can change the boat’s rudder when the wind changes, as commodity prices fall or when there is a new opportunity. For too long, we have had a Prime Minister and his cronies in denial on how bad things have become. A failed Prime Minister and Treasurer and Planning Minister that don’t understand the limits of measurement of so-called “Gross Domestic Product” and how it describes so poorly how living standards have been falling in our country.

In his answer to my question in Parliament at the start of the month, the former Prime Minister didn’t even understand that PNG is a very two-sided economy. The resource side has done very, very well. But this hides how badly the rest of the economy, the side that actually affects the living standards of every Papua New Guineans, has gone backwards by K500 for every person in PNG over the O’Neill years.

A failed former Prime Minister who does not even dare mention the fact that employment numbers have plummeted under this regime. A failed former Prime Minister who refuses to accept responsibility for his appalling decisions such as the huge K1 billion loss on the UBS loan, on the extravagant, Maseratigate APEC, on the expensive South Pacific games, on the creeping corruption through bad procurement policies, creeping tax credits and no action on SABLs.

As a long-term successful businessperson, as someone that has exposed the fake budgets of recent years, as someone who in my budget responses have set out clear policies for a way forward, and as someone who can bring together a better economic team while serving the new Prime Minister Marape, I suggest that all members of Parliament be careful of the snake medicine merchants seeking economic leadership positions.

So where is the Basil Economic Rescue Plan?

The nation deserves a clear vision. The Laguna camp had one. Let us make a team for PNG that lives to the promises and capabilities and visions of the original Laguna team!

If you give into the snake medicine, you will likely lose your re-election. “It’s the economy, stupid”. May the best options be chosen for the sake of our children.

The time for wisdom in serving our children is now. Let the spirit of Laguna arise!


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