Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, October 31, 2011
—The Government of Papua New Guinea, with the help of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today re-launched the National Working Group on Removing Impediments to Business and Investment, a public-private partnership committee aimed at improving the country’s business environment and attracting new investment.
The revival of the working group following a two-year hiatus comes after Papua New Guinea ranked 101 out of 183 countries globally in the latest World Bank Group’s report on the ease of doing business.
The ranking showed that Papua New Guinea needed to step up the pace of reform to improve the business environment. It strengthened the determination among government and private sector partners to tackle regulatory impediments to business growth. The working group, a public-private dialogue among industry representatives and government agencies, will be chaired by the Chief Secretary under the Prime Minister’s Office.
“With IFC’s help, the government is committed to holding regular sessions of the National Working Group so that we can address constraints to doing business and investing in Papua New Guinea in partnership with the private sector,” Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenoc said at a launch ceremony in Port Moresby. “We want to expand the dialogue to issues of competitiveness and the goal is to develop industry-specific actions.”
IFC led a series of consultations with public and private sector representatives to assist the Papua New Guinea government in re-establishing the working group. IFC will also share its extensive global experience gained from supporting more than 30 public-private sector dialogue processes worldwide to help ensure Papua New Guinea’s reconstituted group will be sustainable. The National Working Group will also inform IFC’s work with the government in identifying and resolving regulatory impediments to business growth.
“One of IFC’s roles in Papua New Guinea is to help create basic favorable conditions that let businesses operate efficiently and profitably; it’s only then that firms can create jobs and the well-being of people improves,” said Carolyn Blacklock, IFC’s Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea. “By helping to bring government and private sector leaders together to agree on the main obstacles and first steps to remove them, IFC hopes to support a key step in the country’s development.”
The government plans to ensure that operations will be long-lasting by establishing a permanent secretariat for the National Working Group at the Department of Commerce and by expanding participation to the Indigenous Business Council to give a greater voice to nationally-owned small and medium enterprises. The working group will coordinate with the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, which consults community groups on development issues, and with the Central Agencies Coordinating Committee, which coordinates policy and development planning in PNG.
The National Working Group on Removing Impediments to Business and Investment
The working group has three main objectives:
1 – Identify impediments to business operations and barriers to investment arising from laws and regulations and the activities of the public service
2 – Research and explore solutions to the issues identified
3 – Propose recommendations to the National Executive Council on how to remove business impediments.
Chaired by the Chief Secretary, the former National Working Group on Removing Impediments to Business and Investment met regularly until 2009 and identified important reforms to facilitate business operations : facilitating the processing of work permits; modernization of the automated customs system (ASYCUDA); reviewing the list of restricted activities for foreign investors; liberalization of foreign exchange controls on overseas remittances; review of tax-related impediments to business and investment. Some of these reforms have been implemented while others will be resubmitted to the National Working Group.
Composition of the National Working Group
Chief Secretary to Government (Chairman); Business Council of PNG (Co-chair); Department of Commerce (Secretariat); Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; Department of Treasury; Department of National Planning and Rural Development; Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Investment Promotion Authority; Manufacturers Council of Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines & Petroleum; Rural Industries Council; Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council; Indigenous Business Council.
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