11 January, 2023
In the wake of riots and property damage triggered by confusion over recent tax changes, the Papua New Guinea government has issued a detailed statement clarifying the facts and condemning the violence. The Commissioner General, Sam Koim, expressed deep regret for the loss of life and property during the unrest, which he attributed to misinformation and political manipulation.
Confusion at the Root: The chaos stemmed from a pay cut experienced by public servants in January. While some claimed it was due to a tax increase, Koim clarifies that it was a technical issue with the Alesco payroll system, failing to implement the permanent K20,000 tax-free threshold increase. He reiterates that no new taxes have been imposed on individuals or businesses.
Tax Relief, Not Hike: Koim highlights the government’s ongoing efforts to ease the burden on taxpayers. He points to the permanent K20,000 tax-free threshold, estimated to cost K300 million annually, benefiting lower and middle-income earners significantly. While the removal of dependants’ rebates was proposed, it hasn’t taken effect and its impact, especially with the 3% CPI adjustment for public servants, is yet to be fully assessed.
Misinformation and Manipulation: Koim strongly condemns the exploitation of the situation by opportunists and those peddling misinformation. He urges citizens to rely on official channels for clarification and refrain from indulging in “hyperbole and impulsive reactions.” He emphasizes the importance of factual information and constructive dialogue to maintain stability and address concerns.
Moving Forward: The government promises to rectify the Alesco system error and reimburse lost salaries. Koim appeals for calm and responsible behavior, stressing that national unity and responsible commentary are crucial during this time. He calls for prayer for peace and a commitment to rebuilding trust and ensuring stability in the nation.