‘PNG lacks expertise’

National, Normal

FOREIGNERS are employed because Papua New Guineans are not qualified for key positions, the bipartisan parliamentary committee hearing into the May anti-Asian riots was told last Friday.
George Tipping, a representative of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Trade, said although there were qualified Papua New Guineans, the nationals preferred to get instructions from a foreigner than a Papua New Guinean supervisor.
He told the inquiry that some Government agencies were favouring certain business interest in fast-tracking visa and work permits for their workers.
Mr Tipping, of KG Contractors, said few business houses found it easier to recruit foreign workers than others.
He gave an example of 400 foreign engineers being brought in for a major retail and hotel construction Vision City project in Port Moresby.
Mr Tipping asked why work visa was issued to 400 foreign engineers for the construction of that project alone.
“The chamber knows, it (corruption) goes on in this country.”
He said companies had helped with election expenses or attended fundraising dinners when trying to respond to members of the inquiry, asking whether the chamber of commerce knew that corruption existed.
He said the chamber had been encouraging and trying to improve employment levels in monetary terms, logistics and training of young people to enter the workforce.
When asked about Asian-owned businesses, he said obviously there was a problem.
On the May riots, Mr Tipping said a bit of education would help but did not touch the root cause of the problem.
“The solution is to enforce the laws of this country.”
He agreed with the view that PNG was one of those countries where the cost of doing business was very high.
Mr Tipping, who owned a business himself, said he hired foreigners and offered conditions at a competitive market rate, providing accommodation, vehicle, medical expenses, and annual leave with airfares and spent more than K3,000 for work permits.
“We do not have enough Papua New Guinean nationals who are qualified to work and fit within the various jobs offered with the liquefied  natural gas project and other businesses; thus allowing us to employ
foreigners,” Mr Tipping said.