17 May 2007

PNG election candidate says fiscal surplus should be spent on rebuilding services

10:47 am on 17 May 2007

There's a call in Papua New Guinea for the country's huge fiscal surplus, and other assets, to be spent rebuilding rundown public services.

The current government is basking in a rare surplus courtesy of soaring commodity prices for minerals and oil.

But former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, says there's no point having a surplus if people are dying in hospitals for want of drugs.

As prime minister, Sir Mekere withstood heavy criticism to merge the heavily indebted Banking Corporation of PNG with Bank South Pacific.

He also merged Orogen Minerals into Oil Search.

Both companies are now thriving and Sir Mekere says the remaining government shares could be sold off to pay for much needed roads, hospitals and schools.

"We now have huge surpluses in the budget now. One of the aims I had in mind was to use the resources, additional significant resources, from the sale of interest that the government has already in PNGBC, and that's 800-million. In Oil Search that's 2-billion but there is now sufficient internal revenue."

Sir Mekere Morauta