Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey said the high-level meeting involving the PM highlighted the significance of micro small and medium enterprises in taking back PNG’s economy from the negative impacts of COVID-19.
“Prime Minister James Marape and I had a highly productive meeting with the President of the PNG MSME Council Des Yaninen and its founding President, James Gore, on Thursday,” Ling-Stuckey said in a statement.
“The Marape-Steven government believes in working collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to address many of the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is through a united effort that Papua New Guinea as a nation will win this war against COVID-19.
“This is a war against a hidden enemy. In many ways this is at least a challenging a war as our near neighbours and dear friends Australia and New Zealand are remembering today, 25 April, through their ANZAC Day. Many in our community are making real sacrifices to keep this country safer. Lest we forget.”
The Treasurer said many of the suggestions put forward by the PNG MSME Council will inform decisions being made by the national government.
“We have a series of relief measures aimed at supporting PNG’s MSMEs which will be announced once the cabinet has given its final approval – expected this week,” continued the Treasurer.
“These measures are part of a broader K5.6 billion economic stimulus package aimed at supporting people and the economy in these very difficult times.
“As we discussed and as well understood by the MSME Council, PNG entered this COVID-19 health crisis at a time when our economy was still recovering from the economic mismanagement of earlier years.
“Unlike other countries who have deep pockets and lots of options for direct expenditure support, PNG already had its highest budget deficit in its history. So the discussion focused on how the government can help MSMEs get back to earning their incomes by establishing the right balance between protecting health and protecting the livelihoods of MSMEs. Actions such as assisting with the re-opening of markets and supporting supply chains.
“I encourage the PNG MSME Council to continue to engage with its constituency and provide regular feedback to the government. For example, the MSME is doing a survey of banks to find out how they have been putting into practice a debt holiday for MSMEs hurting because of COVID-19. The government will appreciate such feedback so that it can take further action if necessary to ensure that all forms of support from the banks are actually delivered.
“The Marape-Steven government welcomes practical advice it receives from industry peak bodies such as the PNG MSME Council.
“What this highlights is that the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet are listening to various Papua New Guinean voices in order to help advance the Take Back PNG agenda collectively.”