By CHARLES MOI and DALE LUMA
THE Government has been urged to lift the lockdown, and reopen small, micro and medium-sized businesses to prevent the onset of poverty and crime in communities.
The advice was relayed to Prime Minister James Marape yesterday by the president of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) council Des Yaninen in Port Moresby.”
The council recommended that:
- the lockdown be lifted to allow businesses to operate, while observing social distancing and hygiene rules;
- banks to allow businesses to defer their loan repayments;
- the budgeted K200 million from the Government for MSMEs be released to help them get back on their feet.
Yamien said the MSMEs had a great impact on how people led their lives.
“Poverty increases when small businesses and the informal sector are denied the ability to operate,” he said.
Yaninen said the people were starting to see an increase in petty crimes especially in Port Moresby as people laid off from work five weeks ago looked for ways to survive.
Marape said everything was being done to restore normalcy.
Marape said the MSMEs would benefit from an economic stimulus package to be announced soon. He said he was committed to empowering these businesses.
The Government has allocated the K200 million in the 2020 budget as a guarantee for MSMEs to access loans from banks every year for the next 10 years.
Marape yesterday called on women to start small businesses making reusable face masks which would be needed in big quantities during the Covid-19 response period.
“One of the fundamental requirements for people to respond in the face of Covid-19 is to wear a face mask,” he said.
“I ask our mothers (around) the country to use this as an opportunity to start a SME (small-medium enterprise) and sew face masks.
“Districts and provinces would be asked to ensure that the SMEs nationwide sew facemasks to be used.
“I think face masks will become part of our dressing to ensure we don’t spread this contagious infectious disease. We (must) keep it from spreading.”