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A bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week on measures to be taken if the state of emergency comes to an end as scheduled tomorrow, says Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape.
He said on Friday that the Government had been advised by technical and health experts to extend the national emergency.
But the Government will consider other options.
“In the event that Parliament refutes the state of emergency extension, then a specific act of parliament will embrace how we live, how we use transport, how we go to school, how we conduct ourselves so that we remain defensive against the Covid-19 from attacking us and spreading,” he said.
Marape said Cabinet last week directed the Health Department and State lawyers led by the Attorney-General to come up with a specific act of Parliament in the bill stage.
“Cabinet met (last Thursday) and we have given instruction to our Health Department.
“We have also given instruction to our State lawyers.
“The attorney-general has taken carriage of the matter for us to promulgate a specific act of parliament.”
The state of emergency was initially declared for 14 days from 24 March.
But it was extended to 02 June after Parliament approved the extension and subsequent legislations to make it legal.
Parliament convenes tomorrow to discuss the matter.
“When we go to Parliament, we’ll deal with statistics and facts on what is happening globally for us to make informed decisions as to what is the protocols required to live with the Covid-19 for the balance of this year and into the future,” Marape said.
Marape said the country must remain vigilant because its health facilities were “incapable of handling an outbreak”.
PNG has fewer than 500 doctors and fewer than 3,000 nurses for a population well above eight million.
“Our intensive care unit has only 200 bed spaces.
“Of those 200 bed spaces, only 44 have oxygen ventilators attached to the bed.”
Meanwhile, the PNG Trade Union Congress (PNGTUC) wants the Government to call off the state of emergency (SOE) in tomorrow’s Parliament sitting, secretary-general Clemence Kanau says.
Kanau said a consensus had been reached by major trade unions through their leaders on Friday.
“We call on the Government to lift the SOE with restrictions maintained at our international borders and only at localities that are classified as hotspots,” he said.
Kanau said with an estimation by two major superannuation funds, over K600 million was expected to be paid out collectively to members whose jobs were affected by the Covid-19.
“Nasfund expects around 20,000 job losses,” he said.
“It has a budget of K260 million (US$75 million) parked aside to ensure all affected, get their savings after due process and requirements are met. If Nasfund’s prediction is any indication, Nambawan Super Ltd with K345million (US$100 million) parked aside is possibly expecting around 30,000 job losses.”
Kanau warned that emotions all around were high which provided the perfect fuel for chaos if the SOE was prolonged.
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