20 Mar 2023

PNG company halts operations, calls on govt to fix electricity crisis

3:13 pm on 20 March 2023
Lae Biscuit

Lae Biscuit Company, which employs more than 2000 people, wants the PNG government to support businesses. Photo: Lae Biscuit

Papua New Guinea's Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso will be in Lae this week to try and head off a crisis with one of the country's biggest manufacturers.

Lae Biscuit Company, which employs more than 2000 people, has shut its doors for two weeks amid what it sees as a government that is unhelpful to business.

A key concern is power outages caused by PNG Power and laws banning factories from obtaining power through other sources.

"The biggest problem in PNG is power (electricity). PNG Power fluctuations are costing us million of Kina," company chairman Ian Chow told the Post Courier newspaper last week.

Manufacturing companies could help address the problem but they need support, he said.

"This government is always talking about renewable energy and we need the legislative processing serving businesses to come into place."

The biscuit maker, which has been around for the past five decades, wants to generate its own solar power, to provide a more reliable source and to increase its green credentials.

RNZ Pacific PNG correspondent Scott Waide said the company could sway the government view.

"It [Lae Biscuit] has a relatively loud voice when it comes to being a representative of the business community and being one of the largest employers in Papua New Guinea," Waide said.

"And having the Deputy Prime Minister come with a high level delegation to speak with the business community and particularly with Lae Biscuit, is significant."

Early this month, Lae Biscuit announced it was shutting down for a fortnight due to the impact of manufacturing costs, along with consumers not having the money to spend on their products.

The company cited the frequent power outages as a part of this, but it also has talked about increasing transport costs.