By MALUM NALU
Leading Papua New Guinea export crop palm oil has called for unprecedented public investment in infrastructure to offset the effects of the dreaded “Dutch Disease”.
Industry representative Ian Orell made the call last Friday at a workshop focusing on the impact of LNG on the PNG economy, with particular reference to agriculture.
“Priority must be unprecedented public investment, through public-private partnership, in reconstruction and maintenance of roads, roads, roads, bridges, ports and social infrastructure – starting now,” he said.
Orell said there must also be assistance with transport subsidies, fuel subsidies, enhanced tax credit schemes and others.
“Lower PNG kina value of exports and greatly elevated production costs will mean severe bottom line impacts,” he said.
“The existing crippling operating costs associated with the country’s failing transport infrastructure will become critical.”
He said palm oil was already suffering because of the LNG with “damaging HR losses to the boom sector”.
“Many mechanics, engineers, welders, HGV drivers, etc, are leaving (for LNG),” Orell said.
“New recruits are not available.
“HR costs are being driven up.”
He said the palm oil industry was also hard hit with Education Department’s technical vocational education training (TVET) suspending apprenticeship courses.
“Palm oil industry currently has more than 300 apprentices,” Orell said.
“We are being asked to establish our own equivalent facilities.”