The National, Monday 05th March 2012
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill and his People’s National Congress want the national election held as scheduled in June.
The party also resolved at its Goroka convention last Friday that it would increase support for its five-pillar policies – free education, free basic medical services, improving infrastructure, maintaining law and order, and growing the economy.
O’Neill said the party did not want the election deferred.
“Given the current political squabbling going on, it is good that the people decide who should lead the country.”
His deputy Belden Namah said last week the government needed time to implement all its policies before an election could be called. This can only be possible if the election is deferred.
The party resolved that free education would be continued with a commitment that tuition-free education would include Grade 12 and later to also cover tertiary education.
O’Neill said the economy would be strong enough by then to sustain the massive undertakings.
The free education budget takes up nearly 30% of the entire national budget and this would remain constant in 2014.
But the actual amount would double to correspond with growth in the economy and this would double again by 2016, he said.
On health, a PNC government would allocate more money to health infrastructure, equipment
and improvement of working conditions for workers.
By 2016, investment in this sector alone should top K2 billion, O’Neill said.
The health sector allocation is now K1.4 billion.
On law and order, a PNC government would invest in all three services – police, army and correctional services – in the areas of infrastructure, equipment, training and recruitment.
The fight against corruption would continue and increase by strengthening of existing efforts including Task Force Sweep.
The legislation on an independent commission against corruption, which has been tabled, would be made into law, O’Neill said.
Similarly, the PNC supports investments in the government’s major transport assets of national significance.
It supports a new authority that will manage and develop these assets which are currently poorly managed by departments and agencies.
Such a body would be empowered to seek concessional and commercial loans to develop these assets to international standards.
On the party’s fifth pillar of growing the economy, O’Neill said it was the engine room for development and growth.
Provision of a stable fiscal and monetary regime will give investors the confidence that PNG is a destination of choice for investment.
“We need to provide a stable legislative and tax regime,” he said.
During a vist to Chimbu over the weekend to launch district improvement programmes there, O’Neill told a crowd that special agencies from the United Nations (UN) and Australia would be engaged to help complete electoral rolls.
“The United Nations and Australia will come in to help us in the elections. We will not defer the election.
“The government will ensure common rolls and security concerns are addressed with the help of these special agencies from UN and Australia,” the prime minister said.
O’Neill said the people were now suffering because of deteriorating basic services and infrastructure due to poor leadership in the past.
More than K70 billion had been budgeted by the government in the past nine years, but there is no evidence of that in rural areas.
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