Thursday, July 4, 2013

SME Summit in Madang a Great Success

By Christoper Papiali

The SME Summit in Madang was a great success. Many of our Papua New Guineans engaged in SMEs felt it was worth coming. There are an estimate of 66,000 SMEs out of the 7 million people. There have been 23 resolutions passed during this 3 days summit and the Prime Minister received and accepted the resolutions with answers. This government is very serious on SME Sector and Hon. Richard Maru, the champion who is spearheading this drive is in the right direction. In this summit many SMEs called on the government to seriously look at the Reserve Business Activities allocated ONLY for Papua New Guineans and the Prime Minister said his government will revise and revisit each reserved business and announce. The law is already there and we can not wait for another year to revisit this very critical area of business because PNGeans have been derived their opportunities. This summit called for National Content Legislation whereby all resources (renewable and non renewable) should be properly monitored to derive maximum profit and revenue to grow the economy. As discovered the MRDC MD highlighted that currently PNG does not have a specific legislation to control its resources. The PNG LNG project was rushed without identifying maximum benefit that should go towards LOs and the state and the developer will get 99% benefit. In this summit, serious questions were raised regarding the high unemployment rate and the no. of high school leavers, almost 66% not engaged in formal sector and even moving on into high education. There is an urgency to establish Foreign Investment Review Board where all foreign investments should come under the microscope of this board and provide direction on what best investment practice and business plan so that they comply with our laws without any overlapping of business activities. Further, the Minister for Trade and Industry is very optimsitic on establishing SME Development Corporation with a view to establish SME Corporation Act, where the PM should automatically become the Chairman of this council. There is no Social Security System in place where our retired public servants, the elderly and others could get continuous assistance and sustenance from. As shared, this country is experiencing massive economic boom but much of what is taking place is not translating down to the actual living standards of everyone particularly in the rural areas. So the SME sector has to emerge, become so aggressive in keeping our economy balance and move towards attaining robust economy like that of Malaysia and Singapore. Could we wait another year to discuss SME sector? This government can not dump the 23 resolutions reached during this summit and to do so would be a cowardice act and seriously it would be intolerable action that any legitimate government can take. The time has arrived for all SMEs to rise to the occasion and champion the growth of PNG economic sector that should slowly lead to political stability. I am more than confident that one day, all PNGeans will rise to the occasion and claim ownership to their resources so that together we could change the face of this great country.

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