By HELEN TARAWA
TREASURER Charles Abel says the government cash flow is tight and he is trying to settle arrears and “clean the books” before the 2017 accounts close at the end of the month.
He told The National yesterday that his biggest “headache” in the next three weeks was to find the money to pay outstanding bills before the close of accounts.
“We’ve got some issues – the (unpaid) teachers’ leave fares, fortnightly wage bills, councilors’ allowances, district support grants and district services improvement programme, functional grants, rental payments. It’s not an easy job when cash flow is tight,” he said.
“We have to manage all these things and not let government finances get out of hand. That is why we have the big focus on revenue. That’s my biggest headache over the next couple of weeks.
“We are trying to address these issues before the close of accounts in two weeks’ time.”
Abel, was responding to questions raised by teachers on their unpaid leave fares, and the outstanding rental payments which forced the closure of two departments in Port Moresby yesterday.
He said the government had some arrears that it was dealing with and would work towards “cleaning the books” before the close of accounts.
He is acting Prime Minister in the absence of Peter O’Neill who is in China.
Staff of the departments of Health and Lands were locked out of their offices because rentals totalling K14 million had not been paid.
Abel said there was no notice given by the landlords which made it very difficult for them to respond quickly.
The government expecting to receive K600 million (US$190m) approved by Credit Suisse, K50 million dividend from Ok Tedi and other revenue to pay off all outstanding bills.
“I need to tidy up all the books and I’m going to keep a close watch on the close of accounts so they (departments) don’t raise those cheques like in previous budgets that roll over and affect the 2018 budget,” Abel said.
“I’ll cut it nice and clean so 2018 starts on a good note.”
He said they were expecting the economy to turn around, and with reforms in the pipeline, some revenue would follow in to support the 2018 national budget.
“We start to invest in agriculture, oil prices going up, commodity prices improving and global economy is slowly improving,” Abel said.
“We go out of this a bit quicker and that’s the whole intention of this 100-day plan and the 2018 budget.”
By HELEN TARAWA