PNG businesses want grants, not loans over Black Wednesday riots

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Black Wednesday
Assistance over Black Wednesday riots recovery . . . the damage done to the Bismillah Holdings wholesale store in Port Moresby. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Dale Luma in Port Moresby

“We want grants and not concessional loans,” is the crisp message from Papua New Guinea businesses directly affected by the Black Wednesday looting four months ago.

The businesses, which lost millions after the January 10 rioting and looting, say they need grants as part of the government’s Restock and Rebuild assistance — and not more loans.

This is the message delivered by the PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday after news that the national government has so far given K7 million (NZ$3.2 million) in funding to several affected companies to pay staff salaries.

President Ian Tarutia said the business coalition representing impacted businesses would be meeting with the Chief Secretary and his inter-agency team this week to find out when the assistance will be given.

Their message at this crucial meeting will be the same — no loans!

“The real impact assistance that is truly beneficial is rebuilding and restocking,” Tarutia said.

“We will meet with the chief secretary hopefully this week to get an update on this component of the government’s relief assistance to affected businesses.

Concessional rate loans
Tarutia explained that an initial National Executive Council decision was to provide loans at concessional rates and managed through the National Development Bank.

“Business Coalition’s response was grants and not loans are the preferred assistance. Meeting with the Chief Secretary this week hopefully can resolve this.”

He also indicated that in the initial impact by businesses compiled in late January, the estimated cost for rebuild and restock covering loss of property, cost of clean up, loss of goods was K774 million.

“This was for 64 businesses mainly in Port Moresby but a few in Goroka, Rabaul, Kundiawa and Kavieng,” he said.

“Out of this K774 million, an amount of K273 million was submitted as needed immediately.

“Business Coalition met last Saturday morning. Business houses are looking forward to meeting Chief Secretary Pomaleu and his inter-agency team this week to find out when the assistance for rebuilding destroyed properties and restocking looted inventory will be given.”

Tarutia acknowledged that so far, the government had paid out approximately K7 million in wage support for businesses which includes eight businesses including CPL.

Businesses acknowledge the wage support to date and are appreciative on behalf of their affected staff.

Dale Luma is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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