BY HELEN TARAWA and JEFFREY ELAPA
PRIME Minister James Marape is pleased with the overwhelming support for the 2020 Budget which was passed on voices last night, calling it “a step in the right direction”.
He told The National the 2020 money plan – made up of a K18.7 billion expenditure against a K14.1 billion revenue – was “about empowering our people”.
“It’s a good feeling. It’s a hard budget but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
“We cannot satisfy everyone but we have corrected it. People (must) go back to the land, link to our small to medium enterprise programme, engage in small businesses,” he said.
Marape is pleased with the road networks to ensure that every part of the country is connected.
“If we invest in this manner, in 10 years’ time we should be linking up the country through new roads, ports and airports,” he said.
He said while the cut in the tuition fee-free education budget “might be hard in the face right now”, he was confident MPs would help by working with their people.
Parliament has been adjourned to Feb 11, 2020, at 2pm.
Nine bills passed yesterday were: Appropriation (General Public Service Expenditure 2020) Bill 2019; Appropriation (National Parliament 2020) Bill 2019, Appropriation (Judiciary Services Expenditure 2020) Bill 2019; Income Tax (2020 budget) (Amendment) Bill 2019; Excise Tariff (2020 budget) (Amendment) Bill 2019; Customs Tariff (2020 Budget) (Amendment) Bill 2019; Public Money Management Regularisation (2020 Budget) (Amendment) Bill 2019; Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill 2019; and, Employment on Non-Citizens (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Meanwhile, Shadow Finance and Treasury Minister Joseph Lelang said significant risks had been built into the 2020 Budget amid weak global and domestic developments and with significant borrowings accumulated for the 2019 Supplementary and 2020 Budgets.
Lelang said the risks associated with low commodity prices, the continued shortage of foreign reserves and low growth “remain real threats to the stability of the economy and on the 2020 Budget”.
He presented in Parliament yesterday the Opposition’s reply to 2020 National Budget tabled by the Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey last Thursday.
“(It) had no vision and no economic reforms package to address the struggling economy but was the rhetorical nonsense about the past, about the budget hole, job holes and fake numbers, a broken down old record repeating itself over and over again,” he said.
Lelang said the Opposition found risks and uncertainties that could derail the implementation of the 2020 Budget and adversely affect Government’s plan in the new year.
He said the Government failed to undertake fiscal consolidation because the 2020 Budget had increased expenditure from K16.5 billion to K18.7 billion.
The deficit had also increased from K3.5 billion to K4.6 billion.
Public debt as a percentage of GDP increased from 31 percent in the 2019 Budget to 38.5 percent in the 2019 Supplementary Budget to 40.3 percent in the 2020 Budget.
“In all economic definition, in all economic rationality, the 2020 Budget has failed to adopt a consolidation strategy,” he said.
Lelang said the real risk was that when real revenue projections were not met, expenditure initiatives would be affected.
He also criticised the cut in the Tuition Fee-Free Education budget, saying it would affect millions of students already in school, especially girls.
BY HELEN TARAWA and JEFFREY ELAPA