Minister Ling-Stuckey reassures reform programs on track

Monday 22 April 2024

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Treasury Matters, Ian Ling-Stuckey, has reassured that the Marape-Rosso Government is undertaking  required economic reforms to  take Papua New Guinea forward.

 “We have entered into a 39 month program with the  International Monetary Fund (IMF), and during our  consultation, we determine the reform priorities, and then build them into key result areas (KRA’s), for release of moneys under the program.

“We have asked key international agencies to back this reform process.”

 Meanwhile, PNG performed very well in its first review program, which  lifted IMF’s budget support financing to K635 million in 2023, however it  needs to improve on its agreed criteria.

“As  of a few weeks ago, we were not doing well on meeting five mutually agreed criteria under our second review.

“However, performance has picked up significantly in recent weeks. We have published details on COVID-19 procurement contracts on the Government’s Procurement website,” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.

In his  recent statement, Mr Ling -Stuckey outlined several  economic reforms, which included an agreement on regulations for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) which will be submitted to the National Executive Council (NEC) soon.

“We have completed the appointments on the BPNG Board. We are working to bring together the views of Treasury, BPNG and the IMF on future reforms to the Central Banking Act to be introduced in the next session of Parliament.

“There is now broad agreement that the planned changes to the Income Tax Act should be delayed until detailed regulations have been prepared.”

Minister added, “With these advances, an IMF mission will now come to PNG next week to commence the second review under the program.”

A further SDR94.75 million (K530 million)  is expected to be release as budget support, if the second review is successfully completed.

Additionally, the IMF  review mission will also perform  a vital role of transparency and accountability, and  assess whether budget repair is actually on track with the budget deficit being reduced by a billion Kina from 2022.

“They will check on whether the release of foreign exchange into the market by BPNG has reduced the level of outstanding import orders down to K150 million.

“They will confirm that the government has not been printing money to pay for the deficit. They will confirm we have been meeting our international debt obligations.”

It is expected the  IMF mission will also discuss new benchmarks for the third review due in September, with a further K530 million available as budget support.

 Particular areas of interest from the PNG side are actions to move towards better cash management in the budget, including moving away from cheques and towards electronic funds transfer (EFT).

A single Treasury account could also produce major interest cost savings, as well as improve management of the country’s finances.

“By then, the level of outstanding import orders should have reduced to K100 million or less, and we will assess 2024 Budget implementation to ensure that we are continuing to reduce our budget deficit, while protecting social sector spending as part of the  PNG reform priorities.”

“We welcome such engagement with the IMF.  An independent source to verify that we are on track in the Marape-Rosso Government’s economic reform program” stated the Minister.

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