Help reduce security costs

Editorial

THE multi-million kina security industry is ever growing and with room for more participants.
This growth in the industry, while providing a welcome employment opportunity for the country’s growing band of out-of-school youth, is also an unfortunate indication of the level of lawlessness and crime in the country.
Security has already become a major cost item to businesses in all parts of the country now.
From the guard at a suburban trade store armed with a machete or a baton to the escort driving a flashy van with a revolver on his side to an individual behind the console of a closed-circuit television network, security is everywhere where there is business to be conducted and where people converge.
Security includes guarding of operations and premises both day and night plus escorts to and from work. Even security companies themselves have to station static guards on their premise and escort their staff to and from work.
There are literally hundreds of companies involved in it, both locally-owned and major multi-nationals.
Besides utilities and staff emoluments, security is now a regrettable but necessary cost that businesses will have to include in their annual budgets.
A company chairman recently stated that the cost of security to businesses in this country is about 10 times higher than in neighbouring countries, which could mean those in the Pacific or South East Asia.
In kina terms, if a business spends say K100,000 annually on security for its PNG operations, it would be spending just a tenth of that of that or K10,000 for security on its operations in Solomon Islands of Fiji for example. That is a huge difference in monetary terms and also in perceptions of the security or law and order situations in each country.
The cost of security is directly related to the actual level or propensity for lawlessness generally.
While business are forced to and are prepared to pay for added security costs, they must recover some of that cost somehow and the customer unwittingly pays for it through the high cost of goods and services.
Little wonder why the consumer has to pay more for certain services and products here while the same would cost significantly less elsewhere in the region.
The law and order situation adds an unnecessary burden on business.
The costs of labour and utilities in PNG are comparatively higher than in the same neighbouring countries.
Businesses have for long suffered losses due to unreliable utilities as well, which is another matter that needs fixing to reduce the cost of doing business.
So add the cost of security to unreliable utilities and generally high labour costs, PNG may remain a less desirable investment destination as opposed to its neighbours.
Local investors or start-ups are also disadvantaged by prevailing business environment.
It is incumbent on the municipal and State agencies to take the necessary first steps to reduce the costs to business and invite businesses to do their bit in order to make this country a lot more conducive to investors and promote local businesses to thrive.
Improving the law and order situation and reducing the cost of security would not merely lead to improved sales and profitability for businesses only, but also benefit the consumer and the State and its agencies as tax collectors.
A healthy growth in business will naturally mean more employment opportunities and less crime and hopefully, a reduction in security costs to business.
This process of reducing costs to business has to start somewhere.

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