Sunday 31 May 2020
Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says his Government is managing a country with “many challenges” after 365 days in office.
He said this at the first anniversary dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Port Moresby on Saturday night to celebrate his first year in office.
A full scorecard of the Marape-Steven Government’s first year in office will be published in the daily newspapers this week.
Prime Minister Marape said the challenge remained for his Government, one year one, “but when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and I am a tough man and keep on going”.
“I may not be a soldier, like some of these former soldiers, but I will soldier on for my country,” he said.
“We are managing a country with many challenges.
“We continue to survive 365 years on, not because I am smarter, but because of a God who knew that the time was right for this transition to take place.
“We changed Government to make things better for our country.”
Prime Minister Marape said his Government inherited a “huge public debt” from the Government of his predecessor Peter O’Neill.
“Our public accounts are not something that we can be proud of,” he said.
Prime Minister Marape said since his Government had been busy cleaning up legacy issues since taking office.
“While some of you may say that Marape-Steven Government is yet to put up infrastructure, my predecessor had eight years to put up what you see today, I have had only one year,” he said’
“We have been cleaning up over the last one year.
“When you look at our 2019 Supplementary Budget, we’ve cleaned up the former government’s K300 million worth of outstanding Works’ contracts.
“This money could have been spent on infrastructure, however, was used to settle outstanding debts.
“Works had over K3 billion worth of outstanding bills to sort out because of issuing contracts left, right and centre.
“We’ve spent money on the act of cleaning up legacy issues of the previous Government.”
Prime Minister Marape said Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey had the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess of the previous government.
“We paid K122 million to public servants in outstanding wages and salaries, a commitment that was made three to four years ago, but no concrete effort was made to honour those commitments,” he said.
“We paid in one supplementary budget.
“On top of this, we paid K860 million to public servants who were going on retirement. We paid K600 million to service providers. We paid another K400 million for office rentals.
“Those were contractual obligations that had to be paid seven years ago, six years ago, five years ago.
“We were living in hype, and hooraying about ourselves, but kept many of our debts still in our books.
“When we took Government, we took a conscious effort to establish the status of our public accounts and economy, and the 2019 Supplementary Budget started processing.”
Prime Minister Marape said the Government retired K2.2 billion worth of debt last year and continues this in 2020.