New-look PNG opposition focuses on economy
PNG's new opposition leader focuses on the Prime Minister's economic management and pledges to offer people a viable alternative government sensitive to their needs.
Papua New Guinea's new opposition leader says the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's economic management will be his government's undoing.
Don Polye replaced Belden Namah as opposition leader this week after last month bringing his Triumph, Heritage Empowerment Party over to the opposition ranks and more than doubling its number of MPs.
Mr Namah welcomed the party's move however has reluctantly accepted his removal as leader, saying he was not party to the caucus which elected Mr Polye.
Mr Polye told Johnny Blades his election as leader followed the democratic parliamentary process and that he has no issues with Belden Namah.
DON POLYE: I do understand why he is upset but certain decisions in life need to take place and we've got to reposition the opposition to addressing the issues that are before PNG as a nation today. Those are the matters and I think we have resolved them easily and I think there is not any issue.
JOHNNY BLADES: I suppose from the opposition's point of view, the key thing is that you all work together - do you see the chances of that being good, you've got a common goal, I suppose?
DP: Yes, we've got a common goal. I don't see any difficulty with us working together because we're not really a huge number because we're not really a huge number at present (8 of the 111 MPs in parliament). The government has a very big number but I'm also seeing the government numbers tracking to our side. And my colleague, the former leader of the opposition, I'm seeing him no unhappy about that because it is in his interest that we work together to form a formidable opposition team that will lead to forming an alternative government and a government when the time is right.
JB: Peter O'Neill keeps making the point that he has got this huge support. Is that how you see it, what's the feeling there (among MPs)?
DP: Well, he's saying that he's got the numbers there and he's got a big carrot in his hands. The carrot is the District Services Improvement Programme for the districts and the Local Level Government Improvement Programme. I think those are the carrots that the Prime Minister's got in his hands, as executive government, knowing that the districts and rural areas of PNG are in desperate situation to have some funds of such magnitude into the districts. But then I think the time has come - MPs and Minister of cabinet even are not oblivious of what's going around. Those District Services Improvement Programme and Local Level Government Improvement Programme funds that have been made available in the previous budget are subject to the greater economy. The economy needs to be sustainable and sound enough to continue to sustain such programmes trickling down to the districts and the rural parts of Papua New Guinea. The economic management of the country is reckless, it is not focussed on the right direction. Although we've got economic policies out there, the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the constitution itself have been breached by the Prime Minister himself time and time again, blowing the budget out of proportion, increasing debt levels and threatening macro-economic stability, so the next one or two years will have major economic challenges and financial dilemmas, therefore (government) cannot sustain the DSIP and other programmes in the districts. And you know what, John, the members of parliament are feeling it. They are seeing it now. Very soon, the number will not be there anymore.
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