AN increase in the sale of trade store goods in the markets and streets of Banz town in the Western Highlands province has forced a Jiwaka shop owner to shut down his business.
Peter Moti, a retail shop owner at Banz, blamed the informal sector law for the closure of his shop, Sintana Trading.
Mr Moti told The National in Banz last on Saturday that he had to close his shop because street sellers were selling the same products at a cheaper price right next to his shop.
“I have to pay rentals, land rates, council rates, transport and other associated costs only to find that my mark-up price is more expensive than what is sold on the streets,” he said.
A disappointed Mr Moti said it was even more frustrating when the Banz town council was allowing street vendors to operate and was collecting rates from the shop owners.
He said he had a three-year lease with the property owner to run his shop but he cannot continue after only eight months of operation.
“The town council laws and even the policy on informal sector need to be clarified properly before people are allowed to operate in this area,” he said.
Mr Moti said if the Government including the town council and tax collectors want to collect tax from business houses, they should strictly look at stopping such informal activities that “are happening around our towns”.
“Some of us are becoming victims of careless decisions at the board level.
“If the informal sector is going to pop up everywhere, where do you leave the formal sector operators?” he asked.
He said his understanding of the informal sector was for locals to sell their handicrafts and home-made products and not trade store groceries like tinned fish, rice, noodles and even hardware and clothes on the streets.
“These products are manufactured in factories with specifications, storage instructions and even use by dates and only licensed operators or shops should be allowed to sell them,” he said.
If a packet of noodles is selling at 80t on the street, then a small operator like him could not make any profit if he decided to sell it at the same price or lower, he said.
“I have shop keepers and even power bills to pay while the street seller pays nothing for selling such goods on the street,” he said.
Mr Moti has called on the Government to make a clear stand on this issue as more registered businesses were forced to close as a result of the booming informal sector.
In Mt Hagen, the city authority has removed the informal sector from operating within the town boundaries and it is no longer an issue for the shops.
Mr Moti said the same could be done for Banz if the leaders and law makers were serious about giving Jiwaka provincial status.