PORT MORESBY,PAPUA NEW GUINEA- MARCH 03,2021: 10:01AM(POST COURIER/PACNEWS): Any more lockdowns imposed by the state due to COVID-19 will not be conducive for Papua New Guinea business recovery.
This is the current sentiment by the general business community with many already setting in place and enforcing the existing COVID-19 measures of wearing a mask, sanitising hands and social distancing.
From an interview done by the Post-Courier on what the impacts are should there be another lockdown, four commentators within the business community have shared with the paper that there is no need for another lockdown.
Bank South Pacific Group (BSP) chief executive officer Robin Fleming said this is because many businesses have only just recovered from the lockdown effects of Covid movement restrictions of 2020 and some businesses are still experiencing either lower sales or cash flow difficulties associated with debt collection and inventory replenishment.
Fleming said certain sectors such as transport and hotels would be hit harder than other sectors and any lockdowns would not be conducive to their recovery.
He said deep cleaning of business premises overnight where a positive case may have been identified as being present is a far more preferable approach then widespread lockdowns with any business disruption being far more limited and contained.
Lamana Hotel have also shared that they are already in arrears with bills because of last year’s lockdown and are still facing a financial conundrum because the business aren’t meeting its budget for the year to date.
“We thought we were on a road to recovery but if there is another lockdown, I don’t know how we will survive.
“Our staff are already struggling to support their families as most of their extended families our out of work and if we have to let go of staff because we just can’t afford it, we fear what is to become of the community in Port Moresby,” Assistant Hotel Manager Jacquie Simons said.
Nasfund chief executive officer Ian Tarutia maintained that a lockdown is not conducive and what needs to happen is to see a ramp up of preventive and containment measures including more volunteering testing, enforcement of preventative measures limiting number of larger crowds at any one time while observing COVID-19 protocols.
He said if need be people should be able to work from home while those in the front line should be attired in appropriate PPE.
Tarutia said a total lockdown is a no.
Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker added that the Government does not have the mechanisms in place to provide businesses and households with the relief measures that was possible with the job-keeper, job-seeker arrangements provided in Australia, or equivalent schemes in other developed countries, which provided support to businesses to enable them both to survive and retain staff and to staff, if laid off.
“The Government last time leant on the banks and superannuation funds to provide the funding for the measures which in other countries were funded by Government.
“There’ s limit to how far those institutions can support relief measures, as, for example, the superannuation funds were merely releasing contributors’ own savings,” Barker said.
He said for schools, again, PNG has little capacity for e-learning at this stage, with both schools and students ill-equipped at this stage to receive such material, although a few education institutions are better prepared.
“It would be severely disadvantageous to rural and lower incomes families who have even less access to the internet,” he said.