Commerce rep stands by criticism of PNG agriculture minister

10:27 am on 20 January 2016

The head of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry David Conn is standing by his criticism of the agriculture minister for his handling of vegetable imports.

The minister, Tommy Tomscoll, has banned all but one company from importing vegetables to PNG.

Mr Conn says there was no consultation over the move, which he describes as highly suspicious when PNG has had credible businesses involved in such imports for decades now being shut out of business.

Mr Tomscoll has slammed Mr Conn as merely representing largely foreign businesses.

Yet the majority of the chamber's members are local, and Mr Conn says they have raised concern over the minister's move.

"Our argument always is monopolies mean higher costs, and the minister dismissed this and said monopolies don't raise prices, competition doesn't necessarily lower prices and... I guess we stung him a little bit by saying well that defies any economic theory that we know."

Mr Tomscoll has challenged Mr Conn to call a public development forum at Unagi Oval to debate social, geo-political and economic issues affecting PNG.

Meanwhile, the minister has told local media he is open to varying the ban so that considerations can be given to those companies that seek government assistance for exemption or have contractual supply obligations.


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