Policy aims to reduce poverty

THE country launched its first National Employment Policy 2021-2031 recently facilitated by the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations. The 10-year policy provides a significant platform for employment sector development. The policy aims to reduce poverty by fostering employment growth. Here The National’s Business reporter DALE LUMA shares what various Government and industry sources had to say about the policy.

Government outlook
Prime Minister James Marape says the country now has an employment policy that is modern and embraces its past and culture.
“Labour and the proper care of labour is the number one duty of employers,” he said.
“Capital injection into an organisation, business and employment structure is important however the difference between the success and failure of an employer goes down to the efficiency, capacity and the effectiveness of the people engaged in that organisation.
“Whilst managing capital is important, greater responsibility lies in the management of employees. Employees properly managed and fine-tuned can create a platform of success for organisations, companies and mostly also for the public services.
“Every employer now has a handbook which can be used to measure against and to guide the workplace environment that the human resources under its care gets to work within so organisations prosper and work collectively in ensuring the nation is prosperous.
“In every employment space, the rights of all employees must be preserved and protected.
“Irrespective of religion, gender, ability or disability, educational level or the range, structure of placement of the employee, rights and employee rights just like human rights is fundamental and this policy hopes to preserve the rights of all employees.
“Those policing this policy are urged to ensure that the rule book is common and preserves the right of employees at every workplace,” he said.
Marape also stressed that the focus of the policy to train and up skill had to be done practically to ensure continued capacity building of all employees.
Trade Union Congress (TUC)
Trade Union Congress (TUC) president John Paska said an employment policy served all people in all walks of life all around the world.
“In the context of Papua New Guinea, while all sectors are important, the formal sector has a key role in driving the economic policy prescriptions that leaders of the country pass down on the floor of Parliament,” he said.
“As such it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that they are well taken cared of.
“Without an expandable formal sector and employment, it affects people in many ways including the Government of this country.
“Since independence, the country has protected 10 per cent of the formal sector that has contributed largely to the revenue of the national budget.
“That 10 per cent has not increased since independence.
“It speaks to the fact that whilst there has been proactive growth in the economy, the country has not been able to break the ceiling in terms of expanding the employment of more people in the formal sector so that they contribute and expand the tax base of the country,” Paska said.
“The value of the formal sector is very important and cannot be denied any more to the fact that they contribute the highest slice of the revenue base.
“The employment policy is critical to encouraging and attracting more people into the formal sector and encouraging more investment in the private sector.
“This will ensure the country’s tax base is expanded and more revenue is generated.”

From left: Marianville Catholic Girls Secondary School students Delilah Tatau and Yvonne Kelliu holding the PNG National Employment Policy 2021-2031. At the back is Max Waino from St Francis Primary School.

Employer’s Federation of PNG (EFPNG)
Employers Federation PNG executive director Florence Willie said employers and businesses wanted clear guidance and objectives and for the Government to take employment seriously.
“Businesses and employers want to be part of this rollout process and the implementation of this policy and to be consulted and engaged,” she said.
“Implementation should not be done by Government alone but with workers, employers, civil societies, non-governmental organisations and donor funders who should be part of the process. The policy is seen as a very important document which can address some of the gaps and challenges in the country,” she added.
“When the PNG LNG project kicked off, Government did not have much say in the engagement of labour and the plans around opportunities for people around the corridors of the PNG LNG.
“That’s the same situation with other sectors such as fisheries, forestry and others.”
Willie said the policy was earmarked to be revived after five years and that the review had to be done so that the policy was workable.

Business front
PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ian Tarutia said The PNGCCI welcomed the launch of PNG National Employment Policy 2021-2031.
“It provides the framework for employment opportunities for all our citizens so they become productive members of society,” he said.
“The policy objective of reducing poverty through employment which in turn is enabled by Government and businesses working together.”

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