Tomscoll explains vegetable ban
The story as told by the national newspaper was poorly constructed, misapprehended and premeditated to mislead first local farmers, and people of PNG. The purpose of the story was scheming to hide the fact that the newspaper and a big supermarket was owned by a same foreign person. Consequently, the story was designed by both companies to hijack public opinion, grab sympathy, and influence public policy.
Monopoly does not automatically drive prices high and Competition does not necessarily push price low. Many macroeconomic and microeconomic factors contribute to price fluctuations including natural disaster and climate change effects. This argument does not hold and classic cases in PNG does not validate this argument either, where monopoly exists in the airline industry, in the energy industry, in the port industry, in the water industry and many more.
The facts are as follows:
(1) The ban on certain vegetables and fruits remain imposed. The ban was compulsory based on considered biosecurity risk, and an upscale of enforcement process on imports. The government is enforcing strict imports to ensure that for instance, the onions imported from Australia are not onions exported from china and United States to Australia.
(2) After I received a written submission from Gryph Holdings Limited, a Papua New Guinea national company and Managing Director RakaTaviri who is a Papua New Guinean arguing their case and seeking removal of the ban, I opted not to remove the ban but instead vary the ban so that considerations can be given to those companies that seek government assistance for exemption, have contractual supply obligations and where special circumstances exist, if demonstrated would be granted. This is a government policy option used in many foreign countries and so correctly is not sinister.
(3) I have not approved a single supplier from Queensland. The process obliges that companies can only import from NAQIA approved sources. This process requires a plant scientists and an animal scientist from NAQIA to carry out investigation on the foreign farm,the PNG Company proposes to import from and they report these findings conclusively whether the source meets or did not meet, all the requirements of the Biosecurity Law and Standard of PNG. As a matter of policy, I am phasing out the past practice of accepting reports and assurance from foreign government authorities that their produce meets high standards and therefore, automatically meets Biosecurity Laws and Standards of PNG without PNG authorities verifying independently. Our NAQIA officers will independently investigate and report their own findings to the PNG government, without resting their case on the reports from foreign authorities.
(4) The process of applying for permits are the same and importers must apply for permit at the NAQIA office. The office of the Minister does not issue import permits. This confusion arises in many cases, because Asians employed as managers in supermarkets are not fluent with English and do not understand the different roles of government agencies in PNG. In effect, they play blind and deaf to public policies of government. All Asians that do not speak, write and read English fluently should be removed from PNG and should not be allowed into PNG to work without undergoing a “fit and proper person’s” English test. There are far too many Asians doing counter jobs whilst unemployment is increasing among Papua New Guineans.
(5) The Minister does not operate as your purchasing manager so do not submit your import order for approval and seek import permit from me. The Minister is responsible for administering public policy, so you can only make a formal written submission to the office of the Minister if your import business requires government assistance, and in this case, to exempt your company from the current import ban. In your submission; (1) you must demonstrate that you are unable to meet contractual obligations because of a short supply in the domestic market, or (2) you must demonstrate that since the imposition of the ban your profit margin has declined thus your company needs government assistance to support your profit, or (3) you must demonstrate that you are currently exporting commodity crops to foreign markets but the current low commodity price is affecting your export business and so the imports willhelp you sustain and smooth your export agribusiness, or (4) you are in the large hotel business and the domestic supply cannot cater for consumption demand, and (5) you are supplying foreign vessels directly for consumption only, such as tourist vessels, foreign navy vessels, foreign military transporters and some special cases as maybe demonstrated in your submission.
(6) I have not received formal written submissions from supermarkets seeking government assistance through exemption but I have received import orders and applications for import permit from supermarkets asking me to approve their orders and permits. I am not your purchasing manager to approve your order. I am the Minister, and you must make formal written submission explaining why your company should be exempted from the import ban, given preference, and why you should not be buying fruits and vegetables from local farmers, and what is your investment plan to develop local contract farming in PNG.
(7) Tong Shin Pty Ltd is not a PNG company, it is an Australian company, granted exemption to import food into PNG. Tong Shin Pty Ltd, is a contractor toforeign navy vessels. These navy vessels will be in PNG for a long duration and these vessels are protectedunder international security treaties. Consequently, I have exempted this company to bring food into the country and directly deliver onto the navy vessels. NAQIA officers will supervise this food transfer. But for the national newspaper to misconstrue this story and seek to investigate a foreign military contractor on-line, highlights the papers insensitivity and negligence towards national security matters of PNG, undermine international security treaties and practices, and endangering foreign navy vesselsand lives of servicemen that will be operating inside PNG waters.
(8) Niugin Logistics Ltd is not an Australian company, it is a PNG registered company, contracted by Tong Shin Pty Ltd to administer all logistics in PNG.
(9) This particular manager in the story saying; he is buying onions from Gryph Holdings Limited for PGK15.00 per kilogram and selling at his supermarket for PGK19.00 per kilogram is dishonestly lying. This manager is buying the onion at PGK8.80 per kilogram and selling at his supermarket at an outrageousprice of PGK19.00 per kilogram driven not by demand but his greed to massively profit. This supermarket manager is making a killingof PGK10.20 per kilogram on the margins at the pain of consumers.
(10) The price of PGK8.80 is high but understood because theses onions are air freight by Air Niugini from Brisbane, on landing the government collects 40% import tax on all imported vegetables and fruits, the government also collects a further 10% on VAT, and with the current kina exchange trading rate low, I will say that the price is reasonable.But it would be cheaper if it arrived in shipping containers.
(11) Chandy Dupagunta is a Director of Gryph Holdings Limited, a registered national company under IPA and citizen of Australia, who has not broken any law in PNG, and so is not different from TiongHiew King, a citizen of Malaysia, owner of the National Newspaper, RH Supermarkets, and RH Timbers operating in PNG. It is deceitful and sneaky to use access to your own newspaper to cast doubt on the character of another person without looking at yourselves, and your distractive legacy in the forest sector in PNG.
Last week January 13, 2016 was indeed a “Black Wednesday” for all professional journalist in PNG, when a daily newspaper grossly misreported, thus compromising in an unconventional way its independence, and in a tactful way promoted the interest of a sister company involved in supermarket