The National, Monday November 4th, 2013
By MALUM NALU
THE budget will not contain new taxes on salaries and wages, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
Giving a preview of the Government’s intentions for the budget, due in a fortnight, O’Neill said the Government’s focus and priorities would remain.
“We’re going to invest in health and education, we’re going to invest in law and order, we’re going to invest in infrastructure development in the country, and we’re going to invest in agriculture and small business – which is going to grow the economy of our country,” he said.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, O’Neill said the Government knew that “our people are suffering out there”.
“Although our economy is growing, the real rate of money going to our people is very low, so we’re not going to add any new taxes for our people.
“In fact we’ve got a tax review that’s going on.
“My hope is that when the economy starts to grow, taxes will come down over time.
“Next year, the economy is projected to grow at about 20%.
“Hopefully, that will mean that we cut some taxes along the way.
Let’s wait until the tax review comes in.”
O’Neill said Budget 2014 was being framed well against the backdrop of difficult economic conditions.
He urged the people not to be misled by the “prophets of doom” in the buildup to Budget Day on Nov 19.
“The budget is being framed very well,” O’Neill said. “It’s a very difficult environment.
“Commodity prices are down; gold, coffee, oil … is coming down.
“This is going to be a very tight budget. This will set the foundation for the economic growth of our country for the next three, four years.
“Don’t be misled by people who are illiterate on economic affairs. They don’t understand the economy … “Let’s see the budget when it’s tabled and judge us on what we’re doing.
“We’re being very responsible. Deficit levels will be within the range we stated last year.
“Our debt level will be within the range that we’ve set, that’s 35% of GDP, it won’t be more than that.”