20 Feb 2003

PNG unions blame IMF for country's social decline

5:21 pm on 20 February 2003

The Papua New Guinea Trade Union Congress has blamed the International Monetary Fund for contributing to PNG's social problems such as poverty and crime.

The PNGTUC's general-secretary John Paska, says free-market policies are put in place by the government at the encouragement of the IMF.

Mr Paska says the IMF was told during their meeting this week that Papua New Guineans are suffering because of the tough economic policies.

"We basically put to them all the things that we believe arise directly or indirectly out of the many policies that have been imposed by the IMF in Papua New Guinea, poverty, law and order problems, unemployment has soared to unacceptable levels, the high cost of living. It's clear that they acknowledge the fact that Papua New Guinea was worse of today than before the time those policies were introduced."

Mr Paska says his meeting with the IMF is part of a lead-up to the organisation's plans to release funds to bridge the governement's budget deficit.

The IMF said last year that it would boost PNG's foreign currency reserves to finance its balance of payment but only if there was improvement in the government's accountability and transparency.