Marape optimistic despite criticisms

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013

 FINANCE Minister James Marapehas assured the nation that the country is in good hands and not in dire straits as painted out by critics.

He gave the assurance yesterday with Treasurer Don Polye, Central Bank Governor Loi Baki and acting Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele in light of increasing criticism of the Government by the Opposition on the weakening value of the kina and budget deficits.

“The depreciation of the kina against major currencies has nothing to do with Government expenditure,” Marape said.

“It’s market play that come into effect in light of the amount of kina needed on the market, especially on the back of contraction of the economy due to the decline of the PNG LNG project.

“We have in the last few years been very dependent on LNG project that has seen a lot of capital coming into the country.”

Marape said it was common knowledge that the 2013 budget was operating on a deficit.

“This year, we’re operating a budget that is by design a deficit budget, which simply means the amount of money we generate in-country as far as revenue is concerned is far less than our total expenditure bill,” he said.

“Knowing that this is a deficit budget, as key ministers who are responsible for formatting this budget, we’ve been very strict and disciplined in our budget.

“Treasury has taken a very hard-line approach. 

“They’ve been releasing warrants in line with only appropriations we made in the budget and holding back on unnecessary release of warrants so we control our cash flow.

“We’re on track as far as our budget management is concerned.”

Marape made comparisons saying: “Last year, we came up with a K270 million-plus budget blowout, especially in relation to personal emoluments.

“This year, up to the third quarter, we’ve only seen a blowout of K70 million.”