Thursday 22 April 2021
Parliament was adjourned to August 10, 2021, following 42 Parliamentary staff testing positive of the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape when addressing a press conference this afternoon, says ‘Parliament is now a red zone,” adding, “ there has been a related death, and members of its leadership have been infected.”
He is concerned over the risk to the health and safety of the elected leaders, many of whom, he said were among the populous group that is vulnerable.
“It is also dangerous to the families of both staff as well as the leadership of this country.”
“As the Prime Minister of our country, I am not willing to sacrifice the health of our elected leaders while at the same time observe the Parliamentary process that can pose immediate and real danger to our MPs, their staff and families.
“ I have rallied members of Parliament on both sides of the house to take this threat seriously, and to ensure that our safety is not compromised.”
The first index case was detected on March 23 2020, and as of 21 April 2021, there were 10,338 cases with 99 Covd-19 deaths, increasing the positive rate at 25 percent, and deaths at 5 percent.
Mr Marape said if there was an increase in the number of people getting tested, at least 25 percent of them would become positive while 5 percent of those positives could die.
“Hospital capacities are now overwhelmed and the cases show no signs of relenting. I call for a total and complete leadership attention to this matter.”
Mr Marape appealed to all elected leaders to support the Government to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
“ The safety of our people is at stake while we worry about our own interest.”
“In that regard, it was incumbent upon the Government with its numbers, to exercise care and responsibility to ensure that all members of Parliament, from both sides of the house, are protected from the potential spread of the virus.”
He added, “this action is in the interest of all who sit in Parliament and all who work in Parliament.
“It is not about the Government and the Opposition, it is about all of us human beings, who are susceptible to the virus.. We have taken responsibility because we have to be responsible for lives, including lives of politicians.”
Before its rising, Parliament also passed the passage of the National Energy Act 2020 and the Electricity Amendment Act.
Meanwhile, Minister for Treasury, Ian Ling-Stuckey, also addressed Parliament on the State of the Economy, highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, both locally and internationally.
Mr Marape however said, COVID-19 was both a fight for the economy, as well as a medical fight, noting there are enormous challenges in implementing the 2021 Budget, with serious shortfalls in revenue collection.
Procurement challenges were also faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the implementation of key projects, designed to help stimulate economic activities.
Mr Marape called for urgent and responsible leadership at all levels of the Government to ensure that the effort is coordinated.
“ It must be about taking responsibility of maintaining a critical balance.”
Prime Minister further commended Governors Hon. Allan Bird, Hon. Paias Wingti, Hon. Powes Parkop and Hon. Sir. Puka Temu, for their statements during the Covid-19 parliamentary debate, and for their wisdom about Parliament taking leadership in the fight against COVID-19,as the national security is at stake
Governor Wingti urged leaders to take leadership in ensuring that large gatherings are avoided.
Governor Parkop on the other hand added that, convening Parliament in itself was against the directives which have already been issued pertaining to gatherings with less than 50 people in assembly, and that although as an institution, Parliament was constitutionally independent.
In the meantime, Mr Marape also noted specifically the appeal by the Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Hon. Timothy Masiu, who wanted State services such as the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), to be fully empowered and supported to disseminate the correct information to every Papua New Guinean, about the virus and health measures which are important to save their lives as well as the lives of their families.
Prime Minister again challenged leaders at all levels, to use the down time to address serious pandemic measures in their own electorates and districts.
“Our people also need to be informed correctly on these issues and therefore it is for all of us to work together on address any information disconnect that exist in the country. It is not about politics.”