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A United Nation (UN) survey covering 3,000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across all 89 districts of PNG’s 22 provinces last month shows that 75 per cent of them were adversely affected by the Covid-19.
According to UN resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla, during the second SME breakfast on Friday, more than 82 per cent of firms that sourced their production materials locally experienced a halt in production.
Rampolla said the full UN socioeconomic impact assessment of the Covid-19, including survey results from 6,000 households and recommendations for Government, development partners and businesses, would be made available next month.
“It is, without a doubt, a very trying time as businesses struggle with the socioeconomic impact of the Covid-19, in PNG and all over the world,” he said.
“What the Covid-19 has also shown, globally, is that the hallmark of a vibrant and healthy economy should be one that can sustain and take care of the wellbeing of its citizens during times of an emergency.
“The solidarity that Papua New Guineans have displayed to each other is once again a beautiful story to tell the world.
“In Papua New Guinea, where the social structure is very much built on larger family relationships and cultural ties, the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) is strongly linked to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that are responsive to the needs and demand of the people and communities.
“The private sector, especially MSMEs, is the vital driver of economic development and growth in PNG, contributing to the employment and income of thousands of persons across this beautiful country.
“MSMEs provide essential goods and services and contribute to the productivity and economy-wide efficiency of the country with their innovations, ideas, and skills.
“A diversified economic base has a significant impact on economic output, productivity, and growth.
“Several countries have had a sustained transition in their economies due to their Government’s focus and support to the MSME sector.
“As a result, millions have been lifted out of poverty as economies have grown.”
Rampolla acknowledge the Government’s vision on economic diversification in PNG and efforts to promote an enabling environment for MSMEs and a growth that was more inclusive and equitable.
“The UN supports the strategic direction taken by the Government through the 2016-2030 SME policy and the SME master plan.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape has assured small to medium enterprises (SMEs) of his Government’s support going forward despite impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
Marape said: “The Government values the contributions of SMEs and is fully supportive of the sector that has fuelled the large businesses in the economy.
“The SMEs, with considerably lower investment cost than large businesses, help fuel the economy and lower poverty in communities by offering meaningful employment to locals. The Government will support the local SMEs to ensure PNG truly creates its own class of innovative wealthy entrepreneurs who contribute to our economy.
“The Covid-19 has affected businesses including major industries like shipping, mining, aviation, and the supply chain and PNG SMEs are no different.
“The impacts resulted in some SMEs and families losing jobs, income, profit, and above all, affected their operations.
“But we must take the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to find means and ways to ensure our lives continue, be it in business, schools and Government. I urge everyone and SMEs out there to go into agriculture and produce goods that will help propel our local economy and the export sector.”
Marape said his Government would try to help create markets in the provinces and districts.
“The Government wants to ensure that the districts become buying points for food our people grow and taken to places like Lae, Madang and Port Moresby,” he said.
He said the Covid-19 also presented PNG the opportunity to be innovative where SMEs were capable of producing locally.
“Instead of relying on foreign goods, the SME sector, I am told, is leading the way in local production of basic daily goods like soap, butter, protein, honey, coffee and even our own ICT applications,” he said.
“This is innovation. Being able to come up with something our citizens can rely on and purchase, which are locally produced by our SMEs, and propel our economy by generating cash back into our communities.”
He thanked the SME sector for contributing to the national economy by creating jobs and income and pledged Government support for growth and innovation.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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