The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
LOCAL authorities on the PNG-Indonesian border in West Sepik province are concerned over the lack of control on the flow of PNG currency into the Papuan province through a border trading post called the Batas market.
The Batas market (a flea market) on the Indonesian side of the international border is less than an hour’s drive from Vanimo, where Javanese vendors sold items such as clothing, jewellery, footwear, food items and electrical appliances at cheap prices.
Many Papua New Guineans travel there almost daily.
All the buying and selling were done in kina by Asian vendors and not Melanesians from the Papua province.
This was observed by this writer who travelled there recently.
Ward Three councillor of Vanimo LLG Richard Amuel told The National that up to a K1 million went over the border on a weekly basis.
He did not say how he arrived at the figure.
Amuel said the Bank South Pacific branch in Vanimo had restricted cash-outs from ATMs and withdrawals over the counter to only K150 per person per day due to the problem.
“Our currency is leaving us through the backdoor to Indonesia and nobody seems to care about the problem,” Amuel said.
He said he had raised concern five times over the provincial radio station’s news bulletins and even made a representation to Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Vanimo-Green Belden Namah, “but nobody seems to care about the problem”.
Amuel tsaid he had repeatedly called on International Revenue Commission (IRC), NAQIA, Bank of PNG and the police to look into this “but nothing has been done”.
Amuel said Papua New Guineans travelled there all the way from Popondetta, Morobe, Madang and East Sepik to buy items in PNG currency.
There was no currency exchange service at Batas and the Javanese vendors were accepting the kina, and then converting it to the Indonesia Rupiah (IDR).
For instance, K500 is about IDR1.5 million.
Amuel said the kina was quite strong and the Javanese traders were making huge profits.
“I had spoken on Radio Sandaun more than five times already to appeal to relevant authorities, including (Deputy Prime Minister Belden) Namah, who is the local MP for Vanimo-Green, but this appeal has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.