Three weeks after the lockdown was lifted, business owners across the country continue to feel the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.
Women in SME who own stalls at the business center under the Pacifica Women’s Network, have called on the government to help subsidize their rental fees under the K5.6 billion stimulus package.
The Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises sector was promised K250 million.
Since the lockdown was lifted, the business center has not received as many customers as it used to. This has forced many to close down their business.
Cathy Awili, one of the stall owners, expressed that they are barely surviving.
“For us as SME mothers and general SME as a whole in PNG, our struggle is, we don’t see the money that is being mentioned on the papers; millions of kina coming to SMEs but for us we don’t see any toea to help us boost our SMEs. At the moment we are like at ground zero, and there’s nothing coming inside and how are going to keep up with the rent?”
Lyn Pepson also expressed that despite the low income that they get from their products, they are still expected to pay K1,200 per month to the landlord.
“Mipla no kuk planti olsem pastem mipla sa kuk. Na moni tu mipla no kisim olsem las taim bikos long ridyus in kastoma. So kaikai blong mipla sampla sa karim go long haus ken.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Nicole Alkend.
“In this business centre, we are only small SME and the loans we receive, like myself, I am a SME loan repayer. So when I started this little second hand shop with the help from the SME, once we were forced to shut down on the 23rd, we did not earn any income because of the two months lockdown. The government promised to help us with some package but that never eventuated.”
Meanwhile, Ruth Undi, the owner of Pacifica Women’s Network, has appealed to the government to support local SMEs during this difficult times.