MP: PNG needs rescuing

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THE country is in a bad socio-economic state and it needs to be rescued, incumbent Ialibu-Pangia MP and Peoples National Congress (PNC) party leader Peter O’Neill says.
“Health and education systems are amongst other sectors that are collapsing,” he said.
“Many hospitals nationwide are struggling to have basic medicine and equipment.”
The former prime minister said giving confidence to the business community was sorely lacking.
O’Neill, who filed his nomination papers in Pangia station at 11am yesterday to contest in the general election, said PNC had policies aimed at rescuing the economy.
“We are putting up 94 candidates to contest in the general election,” he said.
“The leadership in the Government needed to be changed.
“People are really struggling, wages are stagnant.
“The purchasing power of Kina has weakened.
“All this is happening because of incompetent leaders in the Government.”
At the party’s recent convention in Port Moresby, O’Neill said: “If the PNC forms the next Government, we will stop overspending on non-priority expenditures and restore a balanced budget by 2027.
“We will stop uneconomical borrowings and reduce the debt-to-gross domestic product (ratio) from 60 per cent back to 35 per cent of gross domestic product.
“We will set zero tax income for up to K30,000 per year, reduce corporate tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for non-mining and petroleum companies to boost investment and jobs.”
O’Neill said People’s National Congress party also aimed to create 500,000 jobs in the next five years.

OC warns on the use of public funds during election

THE Ombudsman Commission (OC) says its direction to the districts and provinces on the use of public funds is to ensure that monies are not used for any other purpose, especially during the general election.
Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen and Ombudsman Kevin Kepore made this known in a statement yesterday following concerns raised through print and social media concerning the commission’s direction to oversee the release and spending of public funds for the general election.
They said the commission’s direction was specific to all public funds held in provinces and districts, including the Coronavirus (Covid-19) funds held in the provincial and district Covid-19 emergency trust accounts and public funds stored in respective accounts held and operated by the provinces and districts.
They said the direction included funds withdrawn from any bank in Papua New Guinea, including the Bank of PNG.
“The direction does not affect the daily operations of the various institutions in terms of the recurrent budget, however, all relevant authorities should seek clearance from the Ombudsman Commission before transactions can be effected through the respective commercial banks and the Banks of PNG,” Pagen said.
He said the Ombudsman Commission had determined that for any claims for funding for approved projects, the provincial or district administrations had to furnish to them all relevant documents for verification before the release of funds.
“The OC will always stand for transparency and promote an equal playing field for those running for public office without using public funds to lure and influence voters,” he said.
“To meet such standards, nominations for elections must be fair, however, concerns have been raised about the sudden increase in projects initiated months before the election and instances of irregularities and inequalities in the release, disbursement, transfer and receipt of public money just before the general election.
“The direction by the commission is to ensure that leaders do not go on a spending spree months before the general election.”