Working Hard on a COVID-19 response plan by Hon. Ian Ling-Stuckey

The coronavirus is already hurting our economy through global conditions such as falling oil prices. Keeping our people safe through lockdowns will also have economic impacts. Economic mismanagement over the last seven years means the budget cupboard is bare. The Marape-Steven government is working tirelessly to develop responsive, innovative ideas on how to respond such as the actions recently announced by BPNG. There will be further announcements this week. 

“On Sunday evening, I met with the PNG Vice-President of Digicel, the Secretary of the Department of Communications and Information, and my staff to discuss how the telecommunications sector can assist with the national response to COVID-19. It was a very positive discussion covering the work that Digicel is doing in supporting the National Operations Centre, the 4.4 million messages being sent out in Tok Pisin and English to mobile phones providing health messages, and the thousand calls a day being received at the call centre. 

“This is just part of the constant work we have been doing this weekend to develop an innovative response to this health crisis. We are looking at business to business and business to customer options to support each other – it doesn’t only have to be government providing support. We all need to help each other. 

“We have been working to answer the question ‘How does the Marape-Steven Government respond to such an economic emergency?”

“An unsophisticated and dangerous approach would be to just spend big from our budget to stimulate the economy. This was the K2 billion proposal from the Opposition. However, the economic legacy from seven years of economic mismanagement means that we already have the largest deficit in our nation’s history of K4.6 billion. There is a likely loss of K2 billion in revenues updated from our last announcement. Spending a further K2 billion, would create a massive budget deficit and all add to our debt levels which our children will have to pay for. This would be irresponsible.

“So what do we do instead? There is a smarter response. Rather than just focusing on the budget, we can use other economic tools available to government. These are monetary policy and regulatory policies including superannuation. The positive links we have now built with the international community can be leveraged. Businesses can help businesses and their customers.

“The Marape-Steven government’s Pro-active, responsive, protecting our community in a balanced way using the full force of the law. Part of our resilient national response to this pandemic. 

Hon. Ian Ling-Stuckey, CMG. MP

Minister for Treasury 

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