Focus on construction and agriculture


TOO much emphasis on future billion dollars projects is not helping the economy.
There is uncertainty hanging over Papua LNG, Pasca project, Wafi Golpu Mine, Ramu 2 Hydro Scheme, Mayur Coal, Frieda mine, including the Purari hydro and green energy project.
What we need to focus on is construction, which must be geared towards local employment and use local resources to help boost the economy.
Most of the projects are valued at over K133 billion, but, in the absence of startup, we need to refocus on maximising in the immediate and short term – three to five years.
These multi-billion kina projects won’t deliver PNG and none of them will pay taxes and duties for the next 10 years.
There will be a trickle effect when they employ PNG citizens and buy local food but it will be not much.
What the Government needs to do is begin construction of aid projects that will, in turn, create more jobs for locals.
This will also see taxes and duties paid on imported construction materials.
Use local input and enforce company tax and employee tax when given the contract.
The next area to target is agriculture.
Firstly, money should be put into farmer training and rehabilitation so we can see an increase in production within the same year.
For example, the price of parchment coffee is K7 per kilo and export coffee is K18 per kilo.
This is where the foreign exchange will benefit.
To get results in three years, put K2-K3 billion into the massive nursery and replanting of coffee, cocoa, coconut, rubber and, in three years, you will get double production.
This investment will create over 10,000 jobs, kick start the agriculture business support sector, have employee and company tax and have immediate duty and GST revenue.
Encourage large scale agriculture rehabilitation of plantations – rubber, coconut, tea, coffee, and cocoa.
This will create jobs and a base for increased productivity and production.
The Government must also encourage downstream processing.
The rewards will be seen quicker than these billion-kina oil and gas projects.
In one year, we can produce more refined sugar, ethanol, rubber latex, chocolate, ground coffee, oil, soaps, cooking oil, candles etc, which can be consumed locally and/or be exported.
Start milling timbers for export instead of raw logs. More employment, export duty and foreign exchange starts in one to two years.
The mining and petroleum projects should be started now but as medium term or non-priority to kick-start the economy.

Wilson Thompson
President – Farmers & Settlers
Association Inc