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The Papua New Guinea Minister for Treasury Ian Ling-Stuckey Thursday announced a K5.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) economic stimulus package to support households, businesses and the health system.
Speaking in Parliament, Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey said: “This is the largest economic stimulus package in our history because this is the greatest economic and social challenge in our history.
“The package is based on smart economic stimulus options with minimum impacts on the budget and maximum gains for our people and economy. The package is based on five principles and has six key components. Further announcements on measures will be made in coming days.
“The world is at war against the invisible COVID-19. On Tuesday, the US President indicated that deaths in the US from COVID-19 are expected to be at least 100,000 even with the very strong social isolation and travel bans put in place. This is more US deaths than the total of US deaths in the Korean, Vietnam, Iran and Afghanistan wars.
“PNG is also at war against the COVID-19. We are gifted that our Prime Minister acted early enough so that there has been only one known case in PNG – and that person has left the country.
“Epidemiological studies – the science of understanding the spread of diseases – highlight the importance of acting early before there are deaths in the country. Even if COVID-19 is fully contained in PNG with no deaths, there are still enormous economic costs. Our economic modelling indicates that PNG will be entering a recession. This is caused by the global economy and the economic impacts of our shutdown to protect the health of our people.
“The question is ‘How does the Marape-Steven Government respond to such an extraordinary, war-like, economic emergency?’
“An unsophisticated and dangerous approach would be to just spend big from our budget to stimulate the economy. However, the economic legacy from economic mismanagement means that we already have the largest deficit in our nation’s history of K4,631 million (US$1.3 million). Wouldn’t it be nice to have a budget surplus based on the success of the PNG LNG project! But that is not our starting point.
“We must be careful and not only think about today, but also think about the impacts of simply spending more and more, building our debt more and more, leaving more and more of a debt burden which our children will have to pay for.
“It would be irresponsible to do this without exploring thoroughly all other options.
“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,” said Stuckey.
SOURCE: PNG TODAY/PACNEWS
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