Whether you are a self-employed graphic designer or the managing director of a multi-national company, the Chamber of Commerce will welcome you onto its membership list.
The Chamber, which has been running for over 50 years, encourages the involvement of every type of business in order to achieve a wide cross-section of ideas and experience. The current president, Adrian Warupi, sees the Chamber’s main purpose as offering its 1000 or so members an opportunity for mutual support and advice. “All the members of the Chamber help each other out,” says Adrian, “and the Chamber is especially useful for newcomers to Papua New Guinea.”
During his period as President, Adrian wants to highlight the importance of self-reliance to Papua New Guinea. In particular, he wants to see reliance to a greater degree on local, rather than international, investment. He wants to emphasise the value of agriculture. “Of course two of the biggest developments over the last decade have been in mining and more recently in forestry. But while they are lucrative resources they will never provide the same number of jobs as agriculture. It is a grassroots profession and one in which we should increase our investment. There should be more agricultural colleges, for instance. There should be more vocational education of all sorts.”
While acknowledging the central role of agriculture, the Chamber of Commerce is keenly interested in increasing the number of people in the cash economy. At present, out of the population of nearly 4 million, only 20% have jobs, professions or occupations that provide a cash income. “We need to have more local employment generated,” says Adrian. “For example, whole timber logs are still being exported from this country. These should be processed in Papua New Guinea.” One of the roles of the Chamber of Commerce is to offer the Government constructive criticism and advice.
“Government spending has sometimes been wasteful and disorganised. For businesses to grow, government must create a positive investment climate. Improvements in basic infrastructure must be a matter of priority.
“This country is rich with resources and we are not a divided nation. No one tribal group could ever be big enough to dominate the rest of society. To that extent we have built-in security. There are also not many of us – only a few million. We should be able to manage our affairs so that our inherent wealth benefits all.”
The Chamber of Commerce exists to promote that aim.