IN AN interview with China-based Global Times, Papua New Guinea’s ambassador to China, Christopher Siaoa Mero, has said retail prices are high in PNG because the structure of the economy was built by colonial Australians.
Journalist Yin Yeping asked Mero (pictured) for his views on whether Chinese businessmen were the trigger of high costs.
“I don't think that is the case,” Mero said. “The structure of our economy was built by the Australians when they colonised our country.”
“Cities and towns were set up for people who have vehicles. But many in Papua New Guinea do not have cars. The structure of the cities makes it very difficult for people to move around.”
Mero also said that PNG is “a small country and not very important when it comes to the international level.
He said that, although PNG at present grants visas to Chinese citizens free of charge, PNG does this on a unilateral basis and so far, we haven't received a response from China that it would do likewise.
“Visa exemption is what we have been trying to do with the Chinese side. We are ready to do it,” he said.
Mero revealed that the PNG government is looking to introduce regular flights between Port Moresby and Shanghai at the end of 2017 when Air Niugini is expected to commence a weekly flight.
Quizzed on how safe it would be for Chinese tourists in PNG, Mero said “young people who could not find jobs have nothing else to do and that led to the increase of gangs.
“It is safer in the rural areas than in cities because people there are very hospitable and they will look after you.
“Only in the urban places where people need money would it be likely that someone could hold you up and get money from you.
“However, I believe the situation has improved,” he said. “Through strengthening law enforcement and improving national education and infrastructure, the government is working together with the local people to create a safe and secure environment for visitors.
“The government is determined to put efforts and resources toward promoting tourism, and they are planning to set up tourist police to look after tourists throughout the country,” Mero said.