Fix loopholes in system

Editorial

WALK into any clothing, hardware or food supermarket and you will see products with non-English speaking labels on it.
Most are counterfeit products.
And you are sure to meet up with many non-English speaking foreigners.
How did these products and the foreigners enter the country in the first place?
This question can only be answered by the relevant departments such as Labour, Immigration and Customs.
Counterfeit products are the threat of the marketplace and demands our alertness.
As our ports and border become centres of trade facilitating the movement of goods between countries, they have increasingly fallen victim to the illicit trade in fake goods.
It is no surprise that the movement of counterfeit goods is part of a flourishing trade with proven links to global extremists and criminal networks.
Counterfeit and pirated goods not only have a marked impact on businesses’ prestige but causes massive damage to our local businesses as well because fake goods are designed with increasing sophistication while selling far cheaper.
There is little doubt that our capital city has in recent years become a centre-point for dubious foreign traders whose backgrounds are just as the fake goods they sell.
All foreigners who enter Papua New Guinea for business and employment purposes should be required to speak English, which is the language of business and education in this country.
It should be optional for them to speak the two main local languages, Tok Pisin and Motu.
Another concern is that these traders of counterfeit and cheap products are using under-aged children as cheap labourers.
Currently, a government operation to check if foreign-owned businesses and workers were complying with PNG laws is taking place.
Findings showed that some foreigners are turning a blind eye to PNG’s rules and regulations or are ignorant.
The operation was a the result of public complaints about the influx of foreigners in the country and the fact that most were doing work supposed to be done by a local – selling betel nut on the streets, working in a road side shop, driving a forklift and the list goes on.
Labour found most were paying their local employers K2.60 per hour which way below the minimum wage rate of K3.50 per hour.
It is still being done.
Last month, a joint spot check operation by Immigration and police along the Hiritano highway in Central resulted in the apprehension of 10 foreign nationals and discovery of a foreign agriculture company that abuse local workers and employ them as cheap labourers.
The inspection team visited a new oil palm plantation in Kubuni, Kuni, along the Tapini Highway, and was stunned by reports that local workers who were engaged by the oil palm company were paid K65 and K70 on a fortnight basis.
Then you had unbanked cash, filthy and unhygienic kitchens with foreign companies allegedly avoiding paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Commission.
Findings from this and past operations indicated that if processes were followed and the ticks against the checklist done honestly, such scenario would not have come about.
Past operations also discovered foreigners were being paid in cash by their employers to avoid paying tax.
The operations show a loophole in our system on the follow-up of compliance.
The filth uncovered is a wakeup call for an investigation or an enquiry into some government departments operations.
People are sleeping on the job, hence, all this crept through the system undetected or signed with one eye closed.

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