For an organisation in its infancy the Industrial Centres Development Corporation has already made a substantial impression in Papua New Guinea. Not only has it helped propel industry to the top of the government’s priority list but it has also sparked the interest of both foreign and local investors in Papua New Guinean products. “We still have a long way to go,” admitted Gerald Mwayubu, the organisation’s operations manager. “But we have got off to an auspicious start and I am confident that with our help this country’s industrial base will go from strength to strength.”
The ICDC is especially keen to generate interest in locally processed products and local manufacturing.
The ICDC is a statutory agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is a semi autonomous organisation. It is headed by a managing director, Mr. Stanis Bai, who runs it partly as a government concern and partly as a business. “After twenty years in banking, I know how to deal with companies and their needs. And I have a good team here. One of our successes is that we were able to win support from key Government departments like Finance and our own Department of Commerce and Industry.”
“The fact that the organisation balances both governmental and business aspects is to its advantage,” said Gerald Mwaybu. “To a great extent the two areas compliment each other.”
Other than encouraging local manufacturing the ICDC has taken the initiative to establish industrial centres in specific urban areas. These provide local and foreign entrepreneurs with ready made factory units and multi functional industrial land.
The Mahalang Industrial Centre in Lae, which opened in 1993, has proved a major lure to all kinds of investors. The K10 million development is a multi-functional site comprising factory buildings and worksheds. As much care has been taken over the supporting infrastructure as over the buildings. Roads, surface water drainage, sewerage, water supply, electricity system and telecommunication system are all in place before a single operator sets up shop. “The beauty of Malahang is that it takes away all the headaches for investors,” said Gerald. “Whether they want to use the factories for food processing or simply for storage everything is already sorted out for them.”
Major manufacturers with venture capital and small private enterprises are equally attractive targets for ICDC. Now the talk is of encouraging nursery units. Small entrepreneurs can be developed with help from the Ministry of Commerce.
“We will replace import with export. Create jobs for Papua New Guinea. What we have printed on our T-shirts is ICDC – Landlord: Industrial Centres,” quips Gerald. “What is crucial is title to the land, there must be no misunderstandings.” It is with this caution in mind that ICDC are negotiating for a new site in Rabaul and another in Port Moresby.
The difficulties normally encountered in acquiring land for industrial use under the country’s complex land tenure system and the lack of industrial sites with adequate infrastructure are major obstacles to the development of industry, particularly for the private sector. ICDC cuts through those problems.
The opportunities and incentives will be there for businesses. ICDC see themselves as spearheading the industrialisation process in PNG. PNG may be behind other Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, China and the Philippines but they intend to catch up. They are encouraged by the support of the Asian Development Bank.
ICDC is itself a business. They too have to maintain efficiency and cost effectiveness. Their commitment to their clients is encoded in their slogan,“YOUR PARTNER IN PROSPERITY”.