Government listens  to business proposals  

Thursday 18 January 2024

The  Government  convened an important meeting   yesterday (Wednesday 17 January) between government officials and peak business organisations and affected businesses, to gauge their views on how best the government  could best  assist.

The  meeting yesterday  was the result of the January 10  2024 unrest where business houses were   damaged   in Port Moresby.

 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Lands and Physical Planning, Mr John Rosso, chaired the meeting which was attended by Treasurer, Mr Ian Ling-Stuckey, Chief Secretary to Government, Mr Ivan Pomaleu, Governor of Bank PNG, Ms Elizabeth Genia and Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mr David Towe.

Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey  said businesses  had previously met to prepare proposals, stating,  Wednesday’s meeting  at the  Treasury office,  was based on listening to the business proposals..”

“An important process of consultation. A key message is that urgent action is needed to protect employees and commence rebuilding” stated the Treasurer.

“Businesses listed a range of areas for priority actions. The focus was on direct financial support, possibly supported by a special Treasury Bond issuance as was done during COVID19.”

Other proposals included making adjustments to taxes such as removing Provisional Tax Payments, which would greatly improve business cash flows, as well as removal of import excises when restocking destroyed goods

“Administrative fast-tracking was also discussed, such as for rebuilding approvals for premises destroyed by the outrageous looting,” he added.

In the discussion, Ms Genia, indicated that special arrangements were being made to give affected businesses priority access to foreign exchange to restock and rebuild.

There will be a  meeting scheduled for  Monday  22 January, with the four commercial banks to put this prioritization process into action.

Businesses proposed that any direct financial support could be administered through a public-private arrangement such as operates in parts of the donor funded health sector, which was favourably   considered  by the Deputy Prime Minister.

They also indicated that any possible insurance payouts, which could take many years to secure, would then be re-imbursed to government.

Mr Ling-Stuckey said businesses were clear that urgent actions were required, and that decisions were already  made on how to retain staff, how to rebuild stocks, how to secure enough foreign exchange.

“This message was received loud and clear.,” the Treasure assured.

“Subsequent to the meeting, the peak bodies and affected businesses were asked to provide urgent information on their various proposals.  This is essential for providing the costings that must inform future NEC submissions.”

The Treasurer said the range of business proposals and views were welcomed and well received.

The meeting also allowed the  private sector to raise any issues in relation to security arrangements, the reasons for failing to implement the tax changes, the mathematical probability that the Alesco tax scales reverted to the former O’Neill regime of the K12,500 threshold that triggered the police discontent, and why the riots occurred in Port Moresby but were contained in other parts of the country.

Mr Ling-Stuckey admitted the consultation was constructive whilst  listening to the business sector.

“With the additional information required for costings from the private sector, we will be in a position to respond.”

The Treasurer said  the consultation was  being led by Mr Rosso, with  guidance   from the Prime Minister.