OPPOSITION leader Mathew Wale says the 2019 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2019 perpetuates the status quo as it represents “business as usual”.
He was speaking in parliament on Wednesday.
“The Bill continues the tradition from years past and in these, it is disappointing,” Wale stated.
“And in the face of the significant threats the economy is facing one is stunned by the lack of any serious redirection,” he added.
“In the face of the dwindling government revenues base, this Bill merely resorts to under spending which though necessary will not grow government revenues.”
He said the country was hoping that this Bill would contain initiatives to spur growth in agriculture, fisheries and tourism in particular but there’s nothing of the sort in the bill.
“But like all others before it continues the business as usual approach to fiscal management,” he added.
Wale also touched on the way the country’s resources have never benefited the government and its people.
He said when appearing before the PAC the Ministry of Finance confirmed that the government only received $7 million as half of the 3% royalties for the last four years of bauxite mining on Rennell.
Bauxite ore exports were valued at $494 million for that four year period. It was this same government that was in place in that four year period.
“I had hoped that this Bill would introduce measures to correct this gross injustice. But there is nothing! What is wrong with this government? What is wrong with this Prime Minister?
“Why have you chosen to not take corrective action?
“Prime Minister, do you think it is morally right that the bauxite ore resources of this country are shipped offshore over a four year period and the government only gets $7m for it?
“Do you think it is right that the resource owners of Rennell only get $3.5m for the four years’ worth of exports?
“How many more years of this gross economic injustice are we to expect from this deliberate lack of government action?” he asked the government.
Wale told the Prime Minister that he should suspend bauxite mining until his government addressed these issues as the resource is fast being depleted whilst resource owners and the government are given peanuts.
He further questioned the government to explain why there has been no action to ensure the resource owners and the country get a fair return on the exploitation of its scarce resources.
“This is the status quo the people of this country are sick of and the people of this country are sick of their leaders being spectators as economic injustice is perpetrated in the exploitation of their resources.
“This was the government’s attitude with logging, and it has been the government’s attitude with mining over the last four years,” Wale said.
Meanwhile, the parliament had passed the 2019 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2019 yesterday.
The bill is required to appropriate $145,251,033 for service the year ending 31 December 2019.
By ANDREW FANASIA