The Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, MP has assured small to medium enterprises (SMEs) of Government support going forward despite the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the PNG economy.
He said this when addressing the 2nd PNG SME Breakfast with the theme ‘COVID-19 and the Way Forward for PNG’ in Port Moresby on Friday 26 June 2020.
Prime Minister Marape said the Government values its contributions and is fully supportive of the SME sector that has fueled 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
creates its own class of innovative wealthy entrepreneurs who contribute to our economy”.
“That is in line with the Marape-Steven Government’s vision; Making PNG a ‘Rich Black Christian Nation’, not only with money, but hard working SME owners who support their families and communities,’’ he said.
Prime Minister Marape said the Breakfast theme: COVID-19 and the Way Forward for PNG fit the situation PNG and the SME sector is facing today.
“COVID-19 has affected businesses including major industries like shipping, mining, aviation, and the supply chain and PNG SME is no different”.
“The impacts has 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,” he said.
Prime Minister Marape said the Government will partner with the local financial institutions by putting money in the banks where SMEs could borrow to fund their businesses.
“Very soon myself and the Minister for Trade, Commerce & Industry, William Duma who is responsible for your SME sector will sit down and find ways to help you”.
“We will be having discussions with the commercial banks to put some money so SME owners can borrow to help fund their businesses.
“A this juncture, I want to thank the Bank South Pacific (BSP) and others like the National Development Bank (NDB) and Kina Bank who haveshown their willingness to help us partner into this sector.
“BSP has indicated a 5 per cent lending rate with a 15 year repayment period, whilst Kina Bank and NDB with a 4.7 per cent and 4 per cent for 20 years respectively,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Government through its budgetary processes will put some money into the banks and make it accessible by SMEs to apply as loans and repay.
“We want to ensure that banks hold money that the Government will fund as security in the bank where Papua New Guinean SMEs can borrow at very concessional lending rates to start their little businesses and generate income activities.
“COVID-19 has taken much of our time and we will finish the financial blue prints for the borrowing so it will guide our SMEs to go and borrow from the banks to assist the government support SMEs.
“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,” said Prime Minister Marape.
He also urged citizens not to sit around but do something and gave an example how his mother sold buns to support his father who was a missionary to send her siblings to school.
“My mother who is here today amongst us sewed clothes, baked buns and sold them at the markets and earned say up to K20 a day and was able to save and paid school fees for me and my siblings.
“To those who have nothing to do, please go into agriculture and plough your land and earn some money by selling and as Government will try to help create markets in your 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.
On a positive note, Prime Minister Marape said COVID-19 also presents PNG the opportunity to be innovative where SMEs are 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.
“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.
“To the SME sector, we thank you for contributing to our economy by creating jobs and income, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and value your ongoing contributions.
“The Government will continue to support your initiatives through budgetary allocations to promote and grow SMEs in our country going into the future,” said Prime Minister Marape.