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Sixty-eight per cent of businesses in Papua New Guinea may shut their doors by year end if the country goes into another lockdown.
This is according to the Business Council of PNG president Nuni Kulu in light of the recent rising number of Covid-19 cases in Port Moresby.
In a letter addressed to Pandemic Controller David Manning last Friday, Kulu said the market was recovering slowly from the last state-of-emergency (SoE) and had suggested that businesses keep operating under the self regulation model as per the Niupela Pasin Alert Level 3.
Kulu said the self-regulation model approach was already improving the market considerably as businesses were able to operate ensuring that hygiene protocols and social distancing were practised.
She said the SoE lifted saw improvements with people kept employed and gradually moving towards returning to trading figures for 2019, which was remarkable.
“There are of course other sectors that will remain impacted such as the tourism sector due to international travel and we are working with our colleagues to explore relief strategies with the government,” she said.
“When considering the status of most businesses, they do not have the capability to work from home and cannot afford to restrict operation, and some business may interpret Alert 3 to close their operations.
“It is imperative we continue dialogue to find the balance between health measures and business continuity for financial recovery.”
Meanwhile, as per consultation with the MSME Council, 95 per cent of micro small to medium enterprises (MSME) had expressed that Covid-19 was here to stay just like TB and malaria, therefore a lockdown was not warranted but an adjustment to the new normal.
MSME owners said they had suffered enough during the first lockdown and were still waiting on the government to release the economic stimulus funds promised for them by the State.
“If the government is considering shutting down MSME they must be prepared to pay us the K80 million in economic stimulus payments and the K200 million promised under the SME loan programme that the Prime Minister had announced so we can access funding to keep us going through this period however long it takes,” they insisted.
Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker said much work had already been done to ensure Covid-19 protocols were being observed as PNG did not have the capacity or the mechanisms for major business support while in lockdown.
“It’s a tough call, it’s going to need to ramp up some programs and remove new taxes/levies and impositions, as have been hitting the oil palm industry in recent weeks, or misusing public money like granting price support funds.
“Mechanisms need to be fair and impartial. As much of the economy and livelihoods as possible, including the informal economy, need to be safeguarded by keeping them operating,” Barker said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER PACNEWS
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