IN a growing economy such as Papua New Guinea’s, where the riches of the state are underpinned by the minerals sector, it is important not to take a short-sighted view of the path we should take to achieve national stability and progress.
Minerals are not there forever and the growth of an economy cannot remain stable when the minerals inevitably deplete.
Strategies to overcome economic downturns have been proposed and need to be implemented to safeguard the common good in the future. One such strategy is the introduction of a strong small to medium sized enterprise (SME) culture in PNG.
SMEs can strengthen sustainable growth and create prosperity further down the business chain.
In 2008, at a conference on women’s empowerment, then Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister, Charles Abel, saw this as a breakthrough prospect. Now, with much progress in SME ventures taken up by women, there is a model for business start-ups to boost all business owners throughout the regions.
In 2013, when the SME Summit Conference held its annual meeting at Divine Word University, Richard Maru, now Trade and Commerce Minister, stated that SME’s extend opportunities to help create an economy supportive of PNG’s growing population.
Here we see a pronounced shift in economic thinking where the population is called upon to fill the gap.
Observing the prospects for change, we see a shift from an emphasis on minerals and agricultural to an employment-rich SME sector that caters for the next generation.
SMEs will be the foundation for a one sector economy, which is the human resource sector. It will surely be the only sector sustaining an advanced economy.
The growth and development of PNG can only be achieved as a collective action with the full participation of each member of the population.
With a particularly critical role are the government and its development partners including big business which must work to boost SME initiatives to further encourage and maximise progress for the PNG people.