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The Opposition team has challenged the government and depicted the negative scenario for the country by highlighting no economic growth, business investment decline, mismanagement and high debt for the country. This has resulted in high inflation.

However the Prime Minister and Treasurer James Marape responded by highlighting significant economic growth since his government took over from the O’Neill government in 2019.

“The economy has grown since we took office, lest we forget the recessed economy Mr O’Neill, in 2018 passed over to my government,” Prime Minister Marape said.

“We are not economically-illiterate as these power-hungry mob would want the country to believe.”

“They will discover that it has only been, over the last four years, that PNG has seen the biggest growth in its economy from K79.6 billion in 2019 to K111 billion in 2023. If it took 44 years to grow the economy by K79 billion, then, over the last four hard years, my government has grown the economy by K32 billion. Our administration has successfully met all commitments through the four budgets we have presented, including the elimination of arrears and debts from previous governments. We have consistently fulfilled all our country’s financial obligations without defaulting.”

Prime Minister Marape also refuted claims about mismanagement of the country’s debt and inflation levels.

“When you talk about debt, you must compare it against the size of the economy: 52 percent debt to GDP in 2024 is not the highest,” he explained.

“The highest debt to GDP was in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it went past 70 percent.

“Inflation was also at its highest levels before our time. According to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, inflation rate in Papua New Guinea increased to 2.22 percent in the third quarter of 2023 from 1.41 percent in the second quarter of 2023. Inflation rate in Papua New Guinea averaged 6.71 percent from 1978 until 2023, reaching an all-time high of 23.16 percent in the third quarter of 1995 and a record low of -1.61 percent in the third quarter of 2007.”

Prime Minister Marape urged Papua New Guineans to recognize the growth and stability brought about by the current government.

“When NasFund says membership grew by 5 per cent, it had more than 68 000 new members. Employer growth was at 7 per cent, and 110 new employers joined in 2023, this clearly indicates that there is private sector growth out there.

“NasFund and Nambawan Super also recorded record profits.

“When people deliberately misquote the Central Bank for their political gain, or when they make a commentary based on one business owner saying that he’s losing business, I urge them to look across the nation as a whole.”

“We are giving more money to Public Infrastructure Programme so that contractors nationwide employ Papua New Guineans in the construction space.

“Over 100,000 Papua New Guineans have joined the workforce over the last four years.

“We are investing millions in the health sector, including specialist health care, which has saved Papua New Guineans the financial burden of going overseas. For instance, our Port Moresby heart unit has saved the lives of more than 700 Papua New Guineans and saved them millions of kina. This is because we understand the people and hardship they are going through right now.”

Prime Minister Marape further detailed the government’s initiatives to support the populace.

“We, knowing very well the tough times we are in, have given the biggest incentives for our people including removing tax from low-income earners, have given relief for essential household items, and are on standby to assist going into the future,” he said.

“The government has also made significant educational and financial interventions.

“We have put over 100,000 Papua New Guineans into second-chance education, and more children are in school now at all levels then before. We have paid school fees for more Papua New Guinea children than any other government.

“We are paying school fees for our children, we have removed project fees, have assisted in my government’s flagship Higher Education Loan Programme which has benefitted 35,000- plus students since 2020.

“We are giving SME soft loans to Bank South Pacific and National Development Bank, something that has never been done before,” Prime Minister Marape added.

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