PNG businesses given ultimatum to remove fake bilums

PNG's Minister for Commerce and Trade Wera Mori. Picture: POST COURIER

PORT MORESBY, 15 AUGUST 2018 (POST COURIER) – Businesses in Papua New Guinea engaged in the retail of foreign produced bilum bags and meri blouse dresses have been urged to remove the counterfeit products.

Minister for Commerce and Trade Wera Mori made the call Tuesday giving retailers across the country till the end of August to voluntarily remove the controversial imitation of the much adored hand woven bag and the long top women’s clothing.

“There have been grave concerns about mass production of items that are part of Papua New Guinea culture.

“I make specific reference to imported bilum by foreigners and also foreign made meri blouses.

“I am calling on our foreign investors who are actually here in this country also while doing their business they must note and understand that there must be respect for PNG culture, by the same token our customs must be diligent and they have got to remove such items when they are imported in bulk commodities for commercial purposes,” Minister Mori said.

He said the bilum string bag is a reserved activity under the Investment Promotion Authority Act 1992, indicated under the cottage business activities list.

The minister also called on IPA to ensure all foreign companies registered should be told the don’ts that may compromise their operations in the country and also PNG Customs to tighten up its operations to track such imports hurting local industries that provide incomes for hardworking citizens.

“I would like to appeal to our foreign friends who are operating in the country to respect their conduct of business.

“If they could remove from their shelves voluntarily any bilums that are mass produced or manufactured offshore and at the same time meri blouse that are sold cheaply at about K25 – K30 (US$7 – US$9) undercutting our hardworking Papua New Guinean mothers who spend endless hours tailoring for their own specific designs.

“Customs in particular when they are making inspections and if they see these things they should be confiscated at the wharf and should not appear on the shelves for us to scream up and down.

“I know it is a quite an impossible task to screen everything but they have to be diligent and if they can start off with one I know it will have a domino effect. It will discourage others from importing manufactured bilums.

“We wiill give them till the end of this month, end of August, and if they do not then they will be dealt with appropriately,” Minister Mori said.

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