Papua New Guinea
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Govt vows to address unemployment

BY THEOPHILES SINGH

Minister for Labor and Employment Kessy Sawang has announced in Parliament that she will be working to recoup 10,000 jobs from foreigners to be given back to Papua New Guineans.

“Prime Minister James Marape has announced recently that there are currently around 41,000 jobs in the country that is in the hands of foreigners.

I am tasked to ensure that 10,000 of those jobs are given back to Papa New Guineans,” she said.

She made this statement in response to questions raised by Nipa-Kutubu MP Dr Billy Joseph regarding job security in the country, in instances where foreigners are taking up jobs that Papua New Guineans are capable of doing.

Dr Joseph said; “We have an employment crisis in PNG. I refer to the long line seen at a hotel where thousands applied for a job position of 28 advertised.

I refer to the more than 5000 young men and women who applied to the police recruitment advert where only 500 spaces were available.


“My questions are:

  1. What is the Minister’s strategy to deal with this national employment crisis?
    Many people in our country are complaining that jobs our people can do are taken away by foreigners; contributing to the unemployment crisis.
  2. Does the Minister have a plan on the question of job security for our people?”

In response Ms Sawang said; “That is a big task ahead and I have already advised the Department’s Secretary to put together a committee that will look into that matter, I want to assure Parliament and the country that the government is very keen on taking these jobs from foreigners and giving them back to Papua New Guineans.”

She highlighted that she has already held discussions with Energy Company TotalEnergies Ltd to take steps towards nationalising their workforce in the country.

She also revealed that she will be working to make changes in the current minimum wage to further support minimum wage workers.

She further added that this is captured under the Medium term development plan (MTDP 4).

“The plan goes into detail where these jobs will come from under the different sectors of our country. My job as the Minister is to formulate strategies which will enable the private sector to drive employment in our country,” she said. “The first step is to review and amend our existing laws in relation to labour and employment, and for instance the current minimum wage at K3.50 per hour”.

Ms Sawang reiterated that the government is aware of the rise in unemployment and inflation in the country, however resource constrains hinder efforts to maintain these issues at a sustainable level.

“We also have issues with data in the industry and I was shocked to find out that we do not have the present data, when I took up office,” she said.

“We will work to align the Department’s current policy objectives with the MTDP 4 in the areas of providing accessibility, fair employment conditions, protection of workers and strengthening the public- private-partnership with the private sector.”

She admitted that the ‘unemployment crisis’ in the country is a serious issue that needs immediate attention.

She further added that all these discussions will be included in her Ministerial statement to Parliament soon, and further expressed appreciation to the Marape-Rosso government for having confidence in her appointment.

Outside of Parliament Europe Business Council president Michael Sullivan says it is a sad state of affairs that PNG’s minimum wage is K3.50 per hour.

Mr Sullivan said not too many people in the country can afford to support their families.

He said with the country expecting some major projects to get online, the wealth generated should be invested to help the average Papua New Guinean.