Times are dif­fi­cult: Barker

Fiji Sun - - Business -

Pa­pua New Guinea is fac­ing a dif­fi­cult eco­nomic time with a grow­ing de­mand on pub­lic funds, says In­sti­tute of Na­tional Af­fairs ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paul Barker. He said de­spite a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and var­i­ous ma­jor ex­pen­di­ture com­mit­ments, in­clud­ing free ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal ser­vices, the Govern­ment had failed to prune the widely waste­ful and poorly man­aged district grants. Barker (pic­tured) warned that 2016 was lead­ing up to the na­tional elec­tion when MPs would be lean­ing hard on the district funds.

“There’s a ten­dency for other politi­cised ex­pen­di­ture (and rev­enue re­straint), as well as the costs as­so­ci­ated with pre­par­ing for and con­duct­ing the elec­tions them­selves,” Barker said. He said the Govern­ment wanted to squeeze taxes out of busi­nesses even though the level of busi­ness ac­tiv­ity had dropped be­cause of the low com­mod­ity prices, no ma­jor com­mer­cial con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, and re­duced govern­ment ex­pen­di­ture in the area. He said Govern­ment pay­ments had bounced and for­eign ex­change un­avail­abil­ity un­der­mines in­ter­na­tional pay­ments for ser­vices and im­ports (in­clud­ing com­po­nents for lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing or trans­port).

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