EU Sets Aside $300,000 to revive agriculture sector

by PNG Business News - October 13, 2021

Photo credit: Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea

With approximately US$300,000 in funding, technical help, and mentorship support, the European Union (EU) is promoting rural entrepreneurship, investment, and trade programs.

It aims to revive the agricultural sector by partnering with private sector innovators such as Agritech, Fintech, supply chain financing, mobile money providers, and other businesses to improve access to finance, knowledge, information, and markets for agriculture micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Programme manager of the BPNG SME accelerator Dominic Sikakau said: “The fund will most likely address and develop the demand side of financial access and will contribute to poverty reduction through sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas, through the development of value chains of three commodities – cocoa, vanilla and fisheries in that region.”

Shortlisted candidates would be asked to provide at least 30% of the overall project cost, which includes technical resources, personnel, and operations.

In addition, they will participate in a three-day bootcamp, pitching support, business support building, and pitching coaching.

Marco Arena, EU’s innovative financing specialist said: “The EU believes SMEs are key enterprises to the sustainable development of PNG.

“With technical assistance, companies can compete for resources that they will be able to use and to grow to expand their businesses and create jobs and opportunities for low-income areas,” Arena said.

 

Reference: The National (11 October 2021). “EU allocates US$300,000 to revive agriculture sector”. 



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Commentary by Stephen Howes, Kingtau Mambon and Kelly Samof The urban minimum wage has been an important part of Papua New Guinea’s economic history. In the last few years before independence (in 1975), it was greatly increased. In the decade or so after independence, it was widely regarded as too high. In 1992, it was slashed, merged with the rural minimum, and hardly increased again for more than a decade. We can compare the minimum wage in PNG today with other Asia and Pacific developing countries using International Labour Organization (ILO) data. As Figure 1 shows, PNG’s minimum wage is 18% below the average of the 19 countries shown if the market exchange rate is used to compare minimum wages. It is 37% below the average if differences in cost of living are also taken into account (with conversions made on the basis not of market exchange rates but so-called purchasing power parities or PPPs). The greater difference in terms of PPPs reflects PNG’s relatively high cost of living. 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There have since been some significant increases, but today PNG’s minimum wage is only about one-third of its value at independence, and below its value even in 1972, which is when the steep minimum wage increases began. The Australian minimum wage has always been significantly higher than the PNG one, but the ratio has changed a lot over time. The lowest that ratio has ever been is 2.2 in 1986, the highest 45 in 2004. The gap between the two wages is much higher now than at independence: the ratio of the Australian to the PNG minimum wage was 14.5 in 2021, compared to only 3.2 at independence (1975). This reflects PNG’s 1992 deregulation, and the faster growth in the Australian economy, which has enabled an increase in the Australian minimum wage. The solution to low wages in PNG is not necessarily to increase the minimum. In some sectors, where there is a lot of international competition, a higher minimum wage might lead to job losses. For example, in tuna processing, one of PNG’s main competitors is the Philippines. From Figure 1, we can see that PNG’s minimum wage is lower than the Philippines' on the basis of PPPs, but actually higher on the basis of market exchange rates. While the former is what matters for the welfare of workers, the latter is what matters for international competitiveness. Whether PNG’s minimum wage should be increased will require a lot more analysis. The point of this blog is simply that PNG’s minimum wage does not look high any more by international comparisons, as it has fallen a lot since independence. PNG is often described as a high-cost economy, and this is a fair description. 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For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.

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