PNG Treasurer explains K2.6b ‘miscellaneous’ budget costs

PNG Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey
PNG Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey . . . challenged by the Post-Courier over the budget in an editorial. Image: PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

Papua New Guinean Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey has clarified that the miscellaneous item of K2.6 billion in the budget will be spent on settling superannuation payments for government employees, unpaid rental bills and final entitlements to retired public servants, among other expenses.

“The budget is broken up into many lines of expenditure,” he said.

One of these is Division 207, which refers to “miscellaneous” expenditure by the Treasury and Finance departments.

“Frankly, these are often pretty boring payments, dominated by required payments by government where the funding is centralised rather than given to individual agencies,” Ling-Stuckey said.

He was responding to the PNG Post-Courier’s editorial comment on the budget on Tuesday December 6, asking him to provide an explanation on the “whopping” K2.6 billion miscellaneous expenditure, which represented 10 percent of the total 2023 budget.

“We are no financial genius nor do we claim to be an expert in budget matters but one thing that sticks out and deserve comment from everyone, however has not drawn one single line from the Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, or the Shadow Treasurer, Douglas Tomuriesa and other experts around the country.

The editorial read in part:

“An amount of K2,561,000 million of the total 2023 budget has been parked under this expenditure head.

“This is more than the money allocated to education (K1,383 or 7 percent), Health (K2,335 or 10 percent), law and order (1,385 or 7 percent) and transport (K2,226 or 9 percent) – all key socioeconomic sectors in the country that took just under 10 percent of the budget respectively.

“There are no notes in the budget documents that detail the areas for the expenditure of the K2.5 billion, and the Treasurer, Ling-Stuckey, does not make mention of that money at all in his budget speech.

“We, however, understand that miscellaneous expenses are also costs to government that do not fall into a specific category but to put away a whopping 10 percent of the total budget is just too much and unacceptable.

“It is not too late to demand that the government, through the Treasurer, provide a detailed report on the miscellaneous cost in 2022 and the expenditure plan for the miscellaneous budget for 2023.”

Ling-Stuckey said: “Contrary to the Post-Courier’s allegations, the details for the K2561 million in “miscellaneous” expenditure is clearly set out in the budget.

“Over 10 pages of detail are provided in the budget documents — for the 2023 Budget, see pages starting at page 227 of Volume 2A, and page 236 in the same volume for 2022.

“The largest item for expenditure under ‘miscellaneous’ is superannu­ation payments for public servants, teachers and police.

“This consists of K325 million in superannuation payments autom­a­tically paid each fortnight to Nambawan Super, K300 million to fund the program to finally retire teachers and other public servants that had been left on the public payroll for years without the funding to formally retire them even though they were aged more than 65, a further K200.

“K1 million in exit payments to public servants when they retire through exit payments to Nambawan Super to deal with all current retirees as well as four smaller superannuation payments for other schemes.”

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