By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea is about to enter into a new era of Small to Medium Enterprise management.
In February this year, a new legislation was passed by parliament, and gazette, which makes the Prime Minister directly responsible for the SME sector in the country.
The former Small Business Development Corporation that was in place to oversee the growth of small businesses in the country has been replaced by the Small to Medium Enterprise Corporation or SMEC.
According to the National Gazette the SMEC Act has been in operation since February 10th, this year.
Minister Maru says this global name and its details will pave the way for the policy and master plan that he will put before the parliament to debate in the May parliament sitting.
“We cannot remain as spectators in our own country; we cannot be reduced to selling buai or twisties. We have to have more dignified businesses. ”
The passing of the Act was described as historic, a catalyst, a change maker and a landmark decision by the Minister.
One of the priorities of this act will be to revisit and reinstate the reserve business list which outlines the types of businesses that are reserved for Papua New Guineans.
Minister Maru says under this new law, the reserve list will be very comprehensive. Businesses such as service stations and franchises will be on the list which will mean no foreigner will be able to own them.
He says, “It is a gift for Papua New Guinea. After 40 years, I make no apologies in saying we have lost PNG because 90% of businesses are owned by foreigners.”
Acting Managing Director for the Small Business Development Corporation, Henry Marasembi says there are a lot of challenges ahead but these are exciting times for PNG. Mr Marasembi says this ACT allows the sector to be more diversified while the former set up was restrictive.
Under this new Act the Prime Minister will be the chairman of a 22 member council, a majority of whom are state ministers.
This is part of the plan to elevate the significance of the SME sector and the value that the government will now place on it.
Broadening Papua New Guinea’s tax base through the revenue, that will come from income and corporate taxes, are two of the expected impacts of this move.
“Over the next 15 years we want to help to start up 450,000 new Papua New Guinean businesses,” Minister Maru said.