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Purpose of the Committee
The Commerce and Services Sectoral committee is one of the nine CIMC committees that facilitates ongoing dialogue between Government and private sector and civil society on pressing issues and policies affecting the private sector to address key issues that hinder or support business development in the country.
The Committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss key issues affecting the business environment through a muli sector approach. Private sector and civil society representatives with invited government officials come together to dialogue on key private sector issues and to propose appropriate remedial measures by way of policy development and implementation. Its meetings are chaired by the president of the Business Council of PNG, currently, Mr. David Toua. In the absence of the chairman alternate members step including the CIMC Executive Officer chair the meetings.
Composition of the Committee
The Committee is comprised of representatives from both the public and the private sector and donor agencies.
Its membership is comprised as follows:
1. DPM and NEC
2. Department of Commerce and Industry
3. Department of Treasury
4. Department of National Planning and monitoring
5. Investment t Promotion Authority
6. Tourism Promotion Authority
7. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
9. Department of Labour and Industrial Relations
10. Small Business Development Corporation
12. Infrastructure Development Authority
13. PNG immigration
14. National Working Group on Improving Business Climate
1. Business Council of PNG
2. Fisheries Industries Association
3. PNG Chamber of Mines and petroleum
4. Manufacturers Council of PNG
5. Rural Industries Council
6. Forest Industry Association
7. Institute of National Affairs
9. Employers Federation of PNG
10. APNGBC & PNGCCI
11. Australia PNG Business Council
12. Trade Union Congress
3. European Union
In the last few years the Committee pursued a number of vital issues including;
Reconvening of the National Working Group (NWG) on Impediments to Business and Investment:
The purpose of this Committee is to collaboratively maintain an ongoing partnership between the government and private sector in order to address problems that hinder business development and investment in the country. The Committee had not met for almost three years until it met again just three weeks ago.
One Stop Shop Concept (OSS):
Streamlining of the processing of business certificates, work permits and visa applications was another call made by the Private Sector few years ago and is still continuing to call on government to improve these very vital services to the business sector. The main purpose of this initiative is to improve and fast track the services so that new and existing investors are encouraged to expand and to invest into businesses in the country. The three key implementing agencies have not come together to operate under one roof as per the stated objectives of the OSS. However, various initiatives have been undertaken by the different agencies in order to implement the OSS which includes the following:
Department of Labour and Employment (Foreign Employment Division) Has upgraded their work permit systems, Has undertaken in house need analysis to identify staff capacity constraints and with the findings forwarded a restructure proposal to the Department of Personnel Management 2 years ago, which is yet to be approved, has successfully got the Amendments to the Employment of Non-citizens Act passed by Parliament in 2007.
Drafted Regulations 2008 to implement the Act, which was finalized and currently awaiting endorsement from government. The draft was widely circulated and discussed using various forums. Physical arrangements and in house training have also been conducted and as a result there is improvement in serving clients. In terms of how long it takes to process a work permit is yet to be reported based on what a minimum time requirement is.
Office of Immigration
The government has passed legislation to set up an independent office called ?Office of Immigration? which will report directly to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, rather than through the Department. Currently, the Office is developing an Implementation Schedule to implement the Law. This involves looking at employing a total of 72 staff which, when established should improve the efficiency of processing migration visas.
Development of Private Sector Growth Strategy
The Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI) was invited to present a Conceptual Framework of the initiative at the 2008 National Development Forum. The Department had further taken a step forward by engaging a local consultant to work on the process. At the same time it also had consulted with AusAID and few other development partners to seek technical assistance. The CIMC had initiated a meeting between the peak private sector bodies and the DCI. This meeting had concluded by asking the DCI to draw up the Terms of Reference or the Scoping Document on the Initiative to be discussed in the second meeting. The DCI is yet to forward this document to the CIMC and others for discussion and comments.
Development of an International Trade Policy for PNG
The Committee also called for a development of an International Trade Policy, as currently PNG does not have one in existence. Such a policy should cover trade development and promotion, as well as trade facilitation with a view to further expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods to reduce the time and cost and risk in terms of health and safety of the public.
To date, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is planning to develop the policy with assistance from EU Commission and have developed a framework for 3 years. The assistance will be to enhance capacity building, infrastructure and others to improve trade facilitation for the country, and establish a National Trade Advisory Board.