By DALE LUMA
THE country must recognise that it needs to be competitive in attracting genuine investment, says Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker.
He told The National that “too often by imposing too many formal restrictions, the country frightens off genuine investors”.
“This has opened the door instead to the fly-by-night or corrupt operators,” he said. He said corrupt operators came in through the back door and then failed to contribute adequately to the economy, employment, revenue and standards.
He said in many cases, they seriously exploited PNG’s resources, providing inadequate and unsustainable local benefits.
“Rules have to be consistent and applied transparently for all-comers. And the genuine investors, whether in agricultural production, downstream processing and value adding or services, must be (provided) a fair, consistent and level playing field,” he said.
“Businesses aim to be able to make a profit.
“That’s legitimate. And if it is apparent that the costs will be excessive or the risks too high, then clearly neither locally-owned nor overseas businesses will invest.
“The mantra should be to generate sustainable economic activity and meaningful employment, while safeguarding the natural environment and making a reasonable mandated contribution to the State, for it to perform its essential functions.”
He said if the business sector was hindered by red tape, restriction and unrealistic or rigid fees, no genuine and diverse investment would be attracted.
“Then the economy won’t develop, employment won’t be generated and the State and the country will miss out on revenue and services,” he said.
“Generating opportunities for Papua New Guineans, whether as employees, entrepreneurs, scientists or in various services should be the objective, rather than taking back what is already operated by someone else and failing stimulate increased opportunities and revenue.”
By DALE LUMA