Foreign currency availability remains low

BY MELISHA YAFOI

Despite Prime Minister James Marape’s assurance to businesses that there is a K10 billion reserve of foreign currency available at the Central Bank, businesses have maintained that it is difficult to access it.

On Wednesday, Marape told parliament that the Bank of PNG had a record K10 billion ($3 billion) in foreign exchange reserves and that major customers like Puma, among other companies, should have easy access to foreign exchange reserves. US dollars for their purchases.

He told the audience that if Puma had problems accessing foreign exchange reserves, he should see the treasurer or himself for help.

However, Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Rio Fiocco said the Central Bank is independent from the political arm of government, therefore the treasurer has no say in who gets forex.

He said it is up to the Governor of the Central Bank to decide how he manages foreign exchange reserves for the country.

“Access to forex is even worse for MSMEs.

“Banks favor their best customers (that is, of course, customers who do a lot of business with banks).

“The owner of an SME who wants to order a container of second-hand clothes abroad must wait in the queue for the bank to find the dollars to pay his supplier.

“They have no preference,” Mr. Fiocco said.

Chairman of the Brian Bell Group of Companies, Ian Clough, said the current challenge for importers is that the availability of foreign currency in the market is far below what businesses require to maintain their operations adequately.

He said that as prices for goods around the world rose sharply and shipping and logistics costs soared, the impact on importers was significant.

“It basically means that it takes more currency to buy the same amount of product.

“Yet despite this and the support of our banking partners, foreign exchange flows to support businesses remain at levels similar to those in the past, resulting in businesses only being able to buy less than they need” , said Mr. Fiocco.

“There is a lot of optimism in the future of PNG with many companies, like ours, investing heavily. And our customers expect to be able to buy essential items from our stores every day.

“Items like cleaning chemicals for hospitals, white goods for food safety, solar panels for lighting schools and much more, we have orders awaiting payment in foreign currency to meet these needs,” he added.

“There are also projects of national importance for which we are required to provide goods and services which will be at risk if the goods cannot be paid for quickly.

“Without the support of government intervention, businesses looking to grow, looking to employ more Papua New Guineans, looking to give back more to the community, may ultimately end up being unable to do anything. of all that.”