By MIRIAM ZARRIGA in Vanimo
AITAPE-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch, the leader of the National Alliance Party, yesterday formally resigned from Government as Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Of the 12 Cabinet Ministers who recently crossed the floor to join the Opposition, nine have been decommissioned, one (Hagen MP William Duma) confirmed he is still in Government, leaving Pruaitch and Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko, the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, to confirm which camp they belong to.
Pruaitch has been with the Opposition team camped in Vanimo, West Sepik for the past two weeks.
They claim to have 56 MPs.
Prime Minister James Marape’s MPs are camping at Loloata.
Both camps are awaiting the Supreme Court to rule on the:
- Legality of last Tuesday’s sitting of Parliament where the 2021 national budget was passed; and,
- Legality of the election Marape as PM in Parliament last May, replacing Peter O’Neill.
Pruaitch explained that he left the James Marape-led Government because it had taken the economy on a path of self-destruction and creating a false sense of progress by promising future prosperity with emotive slogans.
“The Marape Government noted that 100,000 jobs were lost in the six years to mid-2019, but remains silent on the 40,000 to 50,000 jobs destroyed by policy decisions taken in the past 18 months – and not as a consequence of the Covid-19,” he said.
“My political party will zealously guide the honourable intentions of our founding fathers to have an inclusive society.
“And today, a pro-growth agenda as we wisely leverage our economic assets and significant resource endowments to resuscitate our ailing economy.
“Taking more debt to fund recurrent expenditure is offensive to any rational thinking leader.”
Pruaitch, a treasurer in the Peter O’Neill-led government, said Marape’s government had increased the total debt stock by 38 per cent from K33.669 billion to K46.464 billion in the past 18 months.
He said the closure of the Porgera mine since April had impacted PNG export revenues, government revenue and the lives of 3,600 retrenched mine workers.
“PNG real GDP (gross domestic product) has contracted by K900 million as a result of the forced shutdown of mine operations at Porgera,” he said.
“The downward trend in agricultural output since 2011 had accelerated under the Marape Government.
“The World Bank recently said declining production last year caused agricultural export revenues to fall by almost 20 per cent.
“The path of self-destruction began in the early days of the Marape Government when conflicting statements were made about the signed and sealed agreement on the US$13 billion (K45.58bil) Papua LNG Project. In the second half of last year, employees of Papua LNG, P’nyang and Wafi Golpu were disbanded and these projects placed in hibernation.
“The policy environment has worsened since the closure of Porgera.”