THE National Development Bank (NDB) will not approve any loans to local groups that engage foreigners in their business activities, the bank’s managing director Richard Maru said.
Mr Maru said this in Kokopo, East New Britain province, last Friday when he presented a cheque for K1 million to the East New Britain Copra and Cocoa Cooperative Society Limited during the opening of the weighing bridge and new Kabakaul copra depot.
He said under its revised loan policy, the NDB would not provide financial assistance to local farmers who have joint partnership with foreigners.
He said the NDB was trying to discourage joint ventures with foreigners, so-called middlemen, to protect the interest of the local people.
“Our people toil the land but it’s the middlemen who make the cream making money in the Highlands with coffee and in the Islands with cocoa and coconut and this is the same story 34 years ago,” Mr Maru said.
He said this was a serious issue to address and it was time to empower the NDB by investing all the money in it to support cooperatives and farmers instead of big companies that were now being reported with funds missing with no one to account for.
Mr Maru said he discovered in the Highlands that more than 80% of the coffee was being processed by foreigners and exported to foreign-owned final processing coffee plants overseas.
“The real winners here were foreign companies in the country and foreign companies overseas”.
“They processed the final products and were the real benefactors of our sweat and that is why the Bank is very keen on supporting copra, coffee and cocoa cooperatives,” Mr Maru said.
He told farmers to stop talking about partnership but about owning the entire value chain.
He said the National Government was planning the National Strategic Plan to be launched this year where the Government will empower people and create jobs.
He said this would not be achieved if PNG continued to rely on middlemen.
Meanwhile, Mr Maru said the NDB made a choice to support the ENB cooperative Kada Lama as its board had proved that it could start a project and managed it well and this was something that was not clear in other provinces.
He said the bank took particular interest when it heard of the project as the ENB Development
Corporation was a clear case of a good competence of management and board to manage the cooperative.
Mr Maru appealed to the board of directors of the cooperative society to refrain from engaging overseas consultants or middlemen when they sold their produce to overseas markets.