The accompanying p.7 article said these “black markets” were “out of control”:
“Illegal vending has overtaken nearly every market and settlers are making themselves comfortable in the official market areas as well”.
It pointed at the Malaoro Food Market at Manu Auto-port at Korobosea, saying the market, which was “never formally recognised”, was now growing rapidly “due to the recent increase in vendors of the informal business sector”.
While the Post-Courier and the National take every opportunity to drool over mining projects whose profits disappear in the pockets of politicians and foreign-owned companies, the mainstream media rejects the contribution of PNG’s millions of real businesspeople.
These hard-working and entrepreneurial women and men fuel the country. Their fruit and firewood stops you from paying 10 times that amount for the same product in a supermarket. Most importantly, the money they make stays in our communities.
Presumably the Post-Courier is annoyed that these businesswomen and men aren’t paying fees to operate in formal markets. So what about the billions of dollars in tax holidays that foreign companies (like MCC Ramu NiCo and the PMIZ project in Madang) aren’t paying?
And has the P-C considered that the income generated at markets around the nation is vital to driving the economy? The tools the self-employed use, the PMV fares they pay to get to and from their place of distribution, the supplies they purchase with their income: it may not sound like much, but consider that the majority of our people use their land to make an income this way, and it’s clear that they provide the real cashflow of PNG.
Instead of attacking their vital initiative, we should be demanding government provide support to improve opportunities for our nation’s traders. As the article points out, the ‘informal economy’ is growing fast. Why? We know there are no jobs in the ‘formal economy’ for young people: our leaders have chosen to focus on big business, which offers no jobs for us (and few other real economic returns for PNG). This is why so many of our young turn to crime in cities like POM.
But the traders defamed in the Post-Courier have chosen an honest path, using their hard work and business sense to support their families and communities. They are also helping prevent PNG’s downward spiral a little longer: because this economy, the people’s economy, is a true money-maker for PNG that allows us to live sustainably.
We should be proud of them.