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Opposition accuses O'Neill govt of falsifying PNG debt figures

Ian Ling Stuckey MPSTAFF REPORTER | PNG Today

PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea Opposition yesterday accused the O’Neill government of falsifying the debt to GDP ratio which it said was way higher than the 2017 forecast and later revisions.

The Opposition charged Treasurer Charles Abel of misleading parliament a week ago in a “rushed and unscheduled budget speech” where he told “some fairy tales to try and protect his political reputation.”

In question was Mr Abel’s assertion that the debt to GDP ratio was 31.9% - lower than the forecast 32.1%.

“Using PNG Treasury figures for 2017 GDP of K73.86 billion, this gives a debt to GDP ratio of 33.4%,” Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance Ian Ling-Stuckey (pictured) said.

“This increase is even more extraordinary when we consider the forecast debt to GDP ratio in 2017, as announced in the 2017 Budget, would be only 28.8%.

“The outcome is nearly 5% higher than forecast in the 2017 Budget and 1.5% higher than the revised forecast.

“Who do we trust. A rushed and unscheduled 5-page political speech by the Treasurer or PNG’s Central Bank?”

Mr Ling-Stuckey said the Bank of PNG indicated on 6 February, that PNG’s debt levels had reached K23.867 billion by 30 September 2017.

He said this was already higher than the level forecast in Mr Abel’s 2018 budget of K23.82 billion.

Mr Ling-Stuckey said it appeared the Treasurer continued to manipulate numbers by not paying bills and fiddling with revenue.

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