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Five businesses affected by the January 10 riots received Government funding support today. L-R: Zheng Cheng Yu – Manager, Lucky Horse Trading Limited, Md. Simon Ahmed – Retail Manager, Asha Enterprise Limited, Janice Chin – General Manager – TC Company Limited, Rio Fiocco, OBE- President, Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Mabone – Accounts Assistant, Sinowell International Limited, Chief Secretary Ivan Pomaleu, OBE, Rippon Mia – Managing Director, Asha Enterprise Limited and Ting Siew Chin – Managing Director, AXC Enterprise Limited : Picture Supplied

Following the events of 10th January 2024, the National Government swiftly implemented policy interventions to stabilize the riot situation, declaring a State of Emergency and initiating key policy decisions to restore normalcy for both the public and affected businesses.

In a concerted effort to bolster the resilience of the business community in the aftermath of recent challenges, the government, under the leadership of the Chief Secretary to the Government, has launched a comprehensive Relief Package aimed at aiding affected businesses and revitalizing economic activity. Spearheaded by the Inter-Agency Task Force, the first phase of this endeavour is already in progress, demonstrating notable progress in providing crucial support to impacted companies.

The Relief Package comprises a range of measures, including cash assistance, concessional loans, and administrative and policy support, with a focus on expediting relief efforts and facilitating the recovery process. Notably, three (3) companies have already received employee retention packages, marking the onset of the first phase, with additional claims being processed by the Inter-agency Task Force.

The Government’s support initiatives are structured into immediate-to-medium-long-term assistance, categorized as Cash Assistance and Soft Loan Assistance. The phased program is outlined as follows:

1.    Immediate Support (3 April – 3 May, 2024): Employee Wages Support.

2.    Medium-term Support (6 – 7 May, 2024): Removal of Debris/Cleaning.

3.    Long-term Support (May – December, 2024): Restoration, Restocking & Reconstruction.

To facilitate seamless support flow and expedite business restoration, the government has agreed to write-off procedural costs associated with relief arrangements.

Key Relief Measures:

·         Red-Tape Reduction: A dedicated Inter-Agency Task Force has been established to streamline regulatory processes.

·         Cash Support: Affected companies are receiving six (6) months of salary support, including superannuation, with additional assistance for debris removal and reconstruction.

·         Concessional Loan Support: Funding allocated to the National Development Bank, with government guarantees, will facilitate concessional loans for rebuilding efforts

·         Administrative Support: NCDC and municipal authorities are implementing the Express Lane process to expedite building approvals.

·         IRC Support: Various forms of assistance, including tax re-estimations and expedited GST refunds, are being offered by the Internal Revenue Commission.

·         Customs and Insurance Support: Waivers on customs duties and efforts to enhance insurance industry regulation aim to alleviate financial burdens on businesses.

Emphasizing accountability, the government has mandated rigorous monitoring, evaluation and auditing mechanisms to ensure transparent resource utilization under the Relief Package.

Ivan Pomaleu, OBE, Chief Secretary to Government and Chairman of the Task Force, expressed confidence about the transformative impact of the Relief Package, reaffirming the government’s commitment to supporting the business community during the challenging times.

As the first phase nears its conclusion, affected businesses are encouraged to promptly avail themselves of the support provided under the Relief Package. Through collaboration efforts, the government and the business community aim to overcome adversity and pave the way for sustainable development.

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