NEW Finance and Treasury Minister Peter O’Neill has assured the people that the government’s priority is to maintain fiscal discipline and sustain economic growth.., The National reports.
O’Neill, who is the Public Service Minister, had been given an added responsibility as Finance and Treasury Minister.
He said his immediate priority was to ensure spending was maintained within the budget level and important government programmes were prioritised.
“Key issues that are of government concern are education, health, infrastructure and law and order. These are key areas that the government will prioritise over the remaining part of the year,” he said.
O’Neill said the government’s district service improvement programme would continue as well as other key programmes aimed at empowering and transforming the rural economy.
“We want to maintain stability so that the business sector and investors have confidence in the government,” he added.
“The government will ensure economic growth continues to prosper, creating an environment for growth in the employment sector.”
O’Neill said economic growth was expected to continue at 8%, largely driven by the start of construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and other new mines.
“The government is mindful of past experiences when uncontrolled government spending caused major economic hardships,” he said.
O’Neill said the budget was framed against the government’s medium-term fiscal strategy (MTFS), the medium-term development strategy (MTDS) and the medium-term debt strategy supported by the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
He said the government’s adoption and adherence to these strategies underpinned the prudent economic and fiscal management of the economy.
O’Neill, the leader of the People’s National Congress (PNC) party and member for Ialibu-Pangia, is a second-term MP.
Treasury and Finance was left vacant when Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch was suspended by the Supreme Court in May on allegations of leadership breaches.
O’Neill has an honour’s degree in accounting from the University of Papua New Guinea and had served various senior positions in the private sector including being president of the PNG Institute of Certified Practising Accountants, partner in Pratley & O’Neill accounting firm, executive chairman of PNGBC, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Pacific MMI Insurance, Finance Pacific Ltd, Port Moresby Private Hospital Ltd and Remington Technologies Ltd.
He also served in various portfolios when he entered parliament in 2002, including public service and leader of government business and opposition leader.