Ghosts to blame for deficit

CASH payments to ghost people on the government payroll and the fall in commodity prices are to blame for a K150 million ($A65.5 million) black hole in the Papua New Guinean budget, according to a senior government official.
Ghosts to blame for deficit
Ghosts to blame for deficit
Ghosts to blame for deficit
Ghosts to blame for deficit
Ghosts to blame for deficit

PNG Treasury Minister Don Polye called on provincial governors and administrators to check the workers they were paying at the provincial level were being paid appropriately.

He was speaking during question time in Parliament in response to questions from Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil, who asked what the government was doing to push the deficit past the projected deficit level.

According to the Post-Courier, Polye said the projected budget deficit of 7.2% or K2.5 billion was within the 32% of the overall gross domestic product debt ratio, which was manageable.

He said, however, that had now gone up to 7.7% or K150 million.

"Now where did the K150 million come from? K78 million has come from personal emoluments at the provincial level. In other words, the salaries and wages that we are paying," Polye said on Friday.

He asked provincial governors and administrators to check if workers were casual employees, permanent staff, or acting appointments, if an excessive number of people were on the payroll or if some people were being paid for two positions.

Polye said regardless of the irregularities it had resulted in a K78 million deficit, which was manageable compared to last year, when the deficit level reached around K300 million on personal emoluments.

He said the balance of the extra K150 million (K72.8 million) came about as a result of the downturn in commodity prices of major trading goods of oil, copper, cocoa prices and other key agriculture commodities.

"These are the two reasons for the extra blow-out and not because of government over-expenditure," the Post-Courier reported Polye saying.

"I would like to assure the Parliament and the people that the government's management of the budget, especially in terms of fiscal controls, are sound and good and we will maintain that to the end of the year and next year's budget will lay out a similar strategy."

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