Lupari confident in spinoff opportunities

Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari has expressed confidence that more jobs and spinoff businesses would be created for Papua New Guineans as tuna processors ramp up production this year.

Lupari was speaking after he was briefed recently by National Fisheries Authority Managing Director, John Kasu, on the progress of the implementation of the rebates scheme adopted this year.

The scheme was introduced by the government after a study found that most tuna caught in PNG waters were sent offshore and not processed in PNG-based factories.

As a result, jobs and millions of dollars in export earnings were lost to those countries that processed PNG’s tuna, notably the Philippines and Thailand.

The rebates scheme is part of a policy shift in the industry aimed at creating more jobs, build infrastructure and create more business opportunities for Papua New Guineans associated with the industry.

Under this scheme, tuna processors based in PNG will receive up to about US$400 (K1,300) for every metric ton of fish processed in their factories.

When fishing boats land their catches in these factories to be processed, they will be entitled to receive the rebate.

The scheme also removes discounts in access fees that were offered to boats fishing in PNG waters.

Figures provided to Lupari by Kasu and his team showed that the six factories processed a total of 5,330 tons of tuna in the month of January.

More people will be employed for these factories to get full shifts working, and the figures indicate this was happening.

The January tonnage of processed fish will entitle the factories to K8.6 million in rebates from the NFA.

Kasu and his officials told Lupari these early figures indicate the factories were stepping up production.

This means more jobs created for locals, especially women, and increased benefits related such as increased economic activities in the localities.

The NFA has allocated sufficient funds in its 2018 Budget to finance the rebates.

Lupari urged NFA to ensure figures provided by the industry were audited to prevent abuse.

“In the long run, we want to create more jobs for our people, jobs that have been lost overseas as a result of our fish going offshore,” Lupari said.

“We also want to retain export revenue that has been lost to other countries over a long period.

“That is the aim of this policy. Some industry people might say it is tough, but I can say that they have been given an easy time here for too long.”

NFA officials expect the processing figures for February to be higher.

Freddy Mou