An undiplomatic speech by Commerce Minister Richard Maru, announcingthe protection of Papua New Guinea businesses andthe takeover of foreign owned enterprises through government policy received overwhelming applause from more than 400 participants atthe SME Summit in Madang.
The champion of Papua New Guinea owned businesses and Small to Medium Enterprises is not a stranger to hard hitting undiplomatic statements at forums like this.
As Managing Director of National Development Bank Richard Maru’said Papua New Guineas have to take back a significant portion of businesses lost to foreign ownership. And, he took that to a new level atthe forum.
He told foreign advisers, some of whom were present thatthey were wastingtheir time ifthey were thinking of pushing for free access intothe lower levels oPNG economy.
“We are going to bring backthe Reserve List Legislation. This summit we’ll talk about what should be reserve, what should be 51 49 and what will be allowed only for foreigners. NEC already decided to bring Reserve List back so any of our friend who thinkthere will be no reserve list or any advisers – you’re wasting your time. Wethe politicians –the lLeadersof this country have decidedthe reserve list is coming back.”
Maru has had one consistent message and it’s about Papua New Guinea ownership and control. He’s not talking aboutthe small contracts orthe spin off benefits or working as laborers for a foreign boss – he wants to seethe growth of Papua New Guinea owned businesses through government guaranteed low interest loans.
“We will now have a body that will screen all foreign investors coming into this country. Before you go tothe registrar of companies to apply for registration,the foreign investment review board which will only be made up of Papua New Guineas only will decide whther your business or your proposed business is inthe national interestoand are you a paper company or con artist or do you have some serious money to bring into this country,” said Minister Maru.
Unlikethe past governmentthere is a general acknowledgment thatthe current economic boom is temporary and unless steps are taken to usethe new found wealth Papua New Guinea future will be in jeopardy.
The summit will chart a new future, in mind will be economy based on renewable resources – an economy that is sustainable and able to support Papua New Guinea young population.