Unfair competition perils retail sector: ICCC

Business, Main Stories

THE country’s retail and wholesale industry will continue to suffer from unhealthy competition unless the Government provides a level playing field for everyone in the industry, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) has said.
Apart from this, the Government will also need to reduce the barriers to competition, increase the enforcement of those policies which are deemed to be in the nation’s interest, reduce the artificial cost pressures on businesses associated with socio economic factors and remove the constraints on productive capacity though making available more natural resources such as land.
In its final report detailing areas for improvement for a competitive wholesale and retail industry, the ICCC said these factors and others continued to restrain players in the sector from performing and conducting business in a competitive and efficient market environment.
This review of the country’s retail and wholesale industries was commissioned in 2007 as part of the Government’s budget strategy with a view to improving the economic performance of the sector.
A draft was released last April, and after a thorough consultative process throughout the country, the final report, released yesterday, hoped to address and provide some solution to the problems, according to chief executive officer and chairman Thomas Abe.
Key amongst the findings were numerous examples of counterfeit and smuggled goods entering PNG illegally, Mr Abe said.
There were also  funding problems being faced by the Internal Revenue Commission’s Custom’s office and the issues of corruption that were rampant there, he said.
The ease with which potential wholesale and retail businesses could  register and enter the formal sector could also be improved Mr Abe  said, and so can the funding arrangement available to Papua New Guineans trying to establish themselves against foreign investors.
He said if these impediments, highlighted by the hundreds of Papua New Guineans who participated in these seminars across the country could be adhered to, then there was hope for the industry.
According to Mr Abe, the Commission has provided a number of recommendations for the Government to consider, which include amongst a number of other things, serious efforts to combat corruption in the customs office, the departments of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Commission to conduct a breakeven analysis to identify the minimum level of tariffs and taxes required to be collected and a push by Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) to review the business registration process, Mr Abe  said.
“The implementation aspect of the recommendations is important and a concerted effort from all levels of government agency responsible is required to make these recommendations work,” he said.