By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE opposition’s reply on next year’s budget will take precedence over all government business in parliament today, including the proposed bill on the reserved seats for women, The National reports.
Leader of government business Paul Tiensten said the opposition would be expected to reply to the budget at 2pm and debate would follow until the passage of the 2011 money plan.
This was expected to take three weeks.
“The government caucus will (this morning) decide on the programme on critical bills to be dealt with by parliament,” Tiensten said yesterday.
“We may sit for three weeks to deal with the huge government agenda, including the women’s reserved seats bill, but the government caucus will decide on the programme and see how we will manage.”
He said the three-week sitting would, at least, meet the 63-day requirement for parliament to sit in a calendar year.
Tiensten, who is National Planning and Monitoring minister, brushed aside claims of a vote of no-confidence against the prime minister.
He said moves by the opposition had backfired after they targeted the man who will entertain their motion – Speaker of Parliament Jeffrey Nape.
“The opposition should be constructive and provide alternative policies.
“We have a country to run and there is no way you can weave magic to resolve the country’s problems, which the opposition is pushing.
“They should sit down and formulate alternative policies and take them to the elections to get the mandate of the people to return and run the country.”
Tiensten was also expected to make a budget statement on the medium-term development plan (MTDP) in parliament today.
He said the MTDP was a measurable document that had been fully costed at K65 billion for the next five years, aimed at creating jobs, growing the economy and improving the quality of life for all Papua New Guineans.
He also condemned the recent “politics of shooting down personalities” instead of providing alternative policies and plans and how to fund them.
Tiensten also disputed the free education policy mooted by the opposition, saying it was not sustainable and funding it would mean sacrificing other sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure and economic development.
“You have to cost such policies.
“How much will you put into free education and, at the end of the day, what will you get out of it?” he asked.
“We have to be responsible in what we say, otherwise, we are kidding ourselves.”