BY JANET KARI
The hit on businesses with various economic pressures in 2020 predicated not much forecast for this year’s financial year.
But businesses continuity to adapt, modify and improve,has reached new heights of business growth in Lae, Morobe province.
Lae Chamber of Commerce Inc (LCCI) early this year reported that although businesses did not forecast a strong financial year for 2021, after a tough financial year, with economic pressures like the annual struggle of having enough forex and Covid-19, they continue to adapt, modify and grow.
The growth of business in the country’s industrial hub is visible through multimillion kina investments and developments from both international and national owned companies taking shape and giving a facelift to the city.
Some of the major developments from international companies include; Orica’s (a world leader in explosive manufacturing) new explosive manufacturing plant, Coca Cola’s new enormous warehouse, one of Goodman Fielder huge project development currently under construction at 11 Mile, and announcement of Paradise Foods expansion plans, indicating massive growth plans.
Other business developments include; the reopening of one of Puma Energy’s busiest fuel stations in the city worth over a million kina, opening of Fone Haus biggest flagship in the country, and the new Ela Motors dealership, a first in the country specifically designed for Toyota brand.
Global shipping company, Swire Shipping (Lae Branch) also opened a new office this year, indicating continuous successes of the shipping company in the country.
Swire Shipping management said PNG is one of the key markets for the company and they are focused on connecting global supply chains to the communities.
Branch Manager Isabel Maguire said in times of uncertainty with COVID-19, the opening of the office is right not only for the customers but also for the staff and investment in the province.
LCCI president John Byrne recently told the Post-Courier that,with infrastructure developments in the city’s vicinity there are already key investors reviewing plans and LCCI is welcoming new investors.
Lae City Authority chief executive officer Neil Ellery also announced that there have been massive corporate investments into the city and these developments are essential to shaping the city and the confidence on business growth.
While new business developments are taking place, LCA is also focusing to creating a conducive environment for business to operate, with its focus on improving law and order, improving the processes involved and build or upgrade vital city infrastructures.
Lae MP and LCA Chairman John Rosso when queried on the confidence of business growth in Lae, said creating a conducive environment is central to ensure business continue to thrive.
Mr Rosso made this statement during the recent launching of a housing scheme project at Igam Barracks.
This project is also a milestone achievement and a major investment into the city as it will contribute K1.5 billion to PNG’s gross domestic product.
The land development is a partnership between Comrade Trustee Services Limited and PNG Defense Force. With these investments and economic growth high on the city’s agenda the multi-billion kina Wafi Golpu mine project in the province continues to drag on, yet another year.
WGJV head of external affairs David Wissink in the signing of a memorandum of agreement with partners, Cocoa Board PNG and Morobe cocoa farmers co-operatives, said while the commencement of the mine is unclear, WGJV continues to focus on assisting agri-business, particularly cocoa.
As the city continues to expect more developments in the near future, frequent power blackouts remains one of the biggest challenge for small and big businesses.
The cost to businesses and households’ equipment failure due to the issue (power) is an added burden to the people and an expensive exercise for business especially with repairs of equipment.
Mr Byrne, this year has raised numerous concerns for the government to seriously look into the power issue and address it.
Commitment from Deputy Prime Minister and Bulolo MP Sam Basil early this year to look into issues affecting Lae businesses including the power issue, is yet to be fulfilled.
Mr Basil made the commitment early this year when meeting with businesses in Lae as the new Deputy PM.
Lae is a growing city and an industrial hub and a state-owned enterprises like PPL needs to address power issues, as most business operating in the city are paying for electricity services to be provided and whether it is the aging equipment, an increase in electricity demand or others, power issues must not continue to be a norm.