By REBECCA KUKU
THE K600 million budgeted by the Government as direct funding support for the Covid-19 response is too small, says Opposition Leader Belden Namah.
Namah said Prime Minister James Marape “had come off the block way too late to be of any help to the people”.
“Covid-19 has been around since its discovery in Wuhan, China last December. The rest of the world had responded to this pandemic in January and February of 2020,” he said.
“Papua New Guinea responded in March. Now when the whole world is scaling down, PNG is scaling up its efforts.”
He said the initial K280 million allocated for the state of emergency had been increased to K600 million as announced by Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey “who appears as if he just returned to planet earth from outer space”.
Namah described it as “piecemeal”.
“Where is the supplementary budget? Where is the stimulus budget? Where is the amendment to the superannuation fund laws to authorise withdrawals for members affected by the Covid-19?” Namah said.
“How can you call this Covid-19 funds when there is no supplementary budget to give the prime minister and his treasurer the legal mandate to go out to the financial market to raise or borrow funds?
“Parliament is yet to be recalled where all these are supposed to be deliberated on and approved.
“The Opposition, as an important and responsible part of government, has been pointing out the way forward since February to no avail.”
Namah said if the virus had hit the country more badly as it did other countries, it would have been a disaster “far worse than anywhere else”.
By REBECCA KUKU