Abel: Monopoly on rice not govt policy

Business, Normal

The National,Wednesday18 January 2012

TRUKAI Industries, the leading rice distributor in the country, has welcomed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s anti-rice monopoly stance as positive news for PNG.
Trukai’s chief executive Marc Denovan said the reports that O’Neill was considering changes to the proposed Central province rice project was “great news for Papua New Guinea”.
Last Friday, Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry Charles Abel said the government was, in principle, against any form of monopoly.
He said the government would not entertain anything to cause Papua New Guineans to pay more for rice.
Denovan said Trukai and all rice growers certainly welcome the comments the Prime Minister made this week and were pleased with his assurances that there would not be a rice monopoly in Papua New Guinea.
“This announcement ensures everyone will have access to affordable rice.
“We encourage an open and free market in Papua New Guinea to ensure not only food security but also the development and improvement of the nation’s agriculture sector,” Denovan said.
The proposed commercial rice farming project in Central province by Naima Agro Industries Ltd would allow the company exclusive tariff protection over other rice companies such as Trukai Industries.
This may cause the price of rice to increase to about K7 a kilogram and Naima would have complete control of the rice industry for the next 20 years, according to Denovan.
Under the proposal, Naima would be exclusively allowed to import and distribute rice without tariff, while other importers will have to pay between 60% and 100%.
This tariff would make it impossible for other rice companies to compete, putting thousands of PNG jobs at risk