Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch today congratulated Prime Minister James Marape on the appointment of his 33-member Cabinet and noted that the entire nation was hopeful this would be a time of meaningful change in policy direction.
Mr. Pruaitch said Prime Minister Marape has been fairly insistent through much of the recent negotiations with the National Alliance-led Opposition that he would be happy for the group of 25 to remain in Opposition.
He said: “It was Mr. Marape who approached the Opposition some months ago to express his desire that we should work together to depose Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. Convinced there was an urgent need for policy changes, the Opposition supported Mr. Marape’s ascension to power.
“However, once Mr. Marape’s Group of 28 left the Laguna camp to set up a base at the Grand Papua they were more intent on forging a partnership with former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Peoples’ National Congress and other PNC-linked coalition parties.
“Until recently the Prime Minister has encouraged our group of 25 to remain in the Opposition although in the latest negotiations, he initially offered four Cabinet positions but yesterday reduced this to two. We rejected the latest offer as inadequate.
“Many people in the country will appreciate that the Opposition is made up of talented and experienced politicians and, in view of current circumstances, we are determined to remain in Opposition through this term in Parliament.
“During recent discussions with Mr.Marape and his team it has become clear they have no specific plans about policy changes they want to immediately implement and it now appears the main reason they wanted to oust Mr. O’Neill was to impose a different style of leadership but with no substantial change in policy direction.
“Some of the Cabinet Ministers sworn in today are well aware that the Opposition was well prepared with significant plans to immediately address the nation’s depressed economic conditions, and to restore employment growth that has been in decline for the past six years.
“This is not to be. We accept our fate to remain as members of the Opposition for the remainder of this term in Parliament and we intend to play our role on behalf of the PNG people to keep the government honest and accountable to their own promises.”
“The Prime Minister in recent days has had much to say about corruption. In the coming weeks, months and years the nation will judge whether these words lead to meaningful actions and whether the Marape Government is capable of rectifying the economic mismanagement that was a hallmark of the O’Neill Government.
“The Opposition is of the view that this is the same PNC Government, but with a different PM. Hence there will be no policy initiatives by the Government. High debt levels, inadequate levels of foreign currency in the economy, poor cash flows and high unemployment levels will continue to prevail in our country.”