AUSTRALIAN economist Paul Flanagan says he is “perplexed and worried” by the failure of Papua New Guinea’s media to cover a critical report on the PNG economy by the International Monetary Fund.
Mr Flanagan has long drawn attention to what he analyses as serious deficiencies in Papua New Guinea’s economic management and reporting.
“I can understand why the government tried to suppress this report by an independent umpire,” Mr Flanagan wrote in an earlier article. “Overall, it was a pretty damning report about the O'Neill government's economic mismanagement.
“There are significant gaps between the stories of the O'Neill government and the information provided by the IMF. These go to the heart of whether the people can trust the government.
“It is interesting that PNG's major local newspapers have not covered the outcomes of the IMF report on PNG but did so for the recent IMF report on Australia,” Mr Flanagan wrote.
“Something is wrong about this reporting, and it also goes to the heart of trust.”
Now he has renewed his criticism, saying he is “still perplexed and worried that there has been no coverage in either the Post Courier or The National of this vital IMF report.”
“There are significant issues that should be known to the people of PNG to consider.
“[They] include large differences between views of the IMF and the government on critical issues such as growth rates, the size of the economy and the external position.
“There does appear to be some control of information flows, and I find this deeply disturbing.
“In a few days there will be some key statistics released by the PNG Treasury but, in this pre-election environment, I unfortunately have doubts about how independent the information will be.”
In another development, for the first time Mr Flanagan has published a Tok Pisin version of his budget analysis and commentary.