OPPOSITION Leader Don Polye has challenged Peter O'Neill’s government to take immediate corrective measures to save PNG's worsening economy from further deterioration.
"The worst is yet to come; the economy will shrink and life will be tougher, " Polye said.
But O’Neill has countered, saying PNG has a positive economic story to tell.
“The facts are that the economy is growing and that is obvious to anyone who wants to be honest,” he said.
“Look around you, the country is changing and the country is developing. We are facing challenges like all economies right now with lower commodity prices, but our economy is in a much stronger position that some people want to admit.
“There is no need for people to talk the economy down and hurt jobs.”
Polye said the government must cease borrowing, encourage concessional financing, eliminate unnecessary costs and remove state liabilities.
"Stop unproductive spending, and concentrate the limited resources on maintaining key services and improving delivery systems," he said, particularly noting health, education and infrastructure maintenance.
O’Neill said that he and Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch have been managing PNG’s economy between them for almost 10 years and this has delivered results.
“The fundamentals of our economy are strong and we are attracting investment to our country,” he said.
“This is different to the years before in the previous government where government assets were mortgaged and we lost our share in Oil Search.
He said the government has a clear focus on policy areas that matter to the nation instead of misaligned and uncoordinated policies of past decades.
“Over the past five years our government has focused on delivering education, expanding healthcare, promoting law and order and delivering infrastructure and advancing economic growth.
“We have maintained our focus and not been distracted.
“Our national programs are aligned with local level requirements and this is delivering for our people.”
O’Neill welcomed debate on the economy but said he sought sensible discussion on the floor of parliament.
“As a government we will give credit where it is due and we will expect the opposition to do the same,” he said.