China Town – What’s In It For Them, What’s In It For Us?

  • As many of you have now read in the papers and social media, there’s been an announcement of a private sector investment of some K2 Billion to develop Port Moresby’s China Town.

    This investment is undoubtedly the largest by a private investor and while some of you may praise the investment, let’s take a look at some of the critical issues this investment raises.

    We’re not privy to the specific details of the development agreement but it’s important to consider some key questions and make your own assessment as to whether or not this investment should make you click “Like”.

    1. If the print media is correct, the investment is a private one.  The key word here is “private”.  As you know, anything that is “private” in this capital world means there is a give and take.  If we are expected to be handed the keys to this “state of the art masterpiece which will change the face of Port Moresby” just what exactly are we handing over?  In any private investment, the investor makes a profit and in this case, it certainly is expected to be much more than the reported K2 billion the company is investing in.
    2. The development is expected to be constructed by a Chinese company Baosen.  As we’ve seen time and again in Port Moresby, any major Chinese project has often resulted in an influx of Chinese workers.  Can we expect the same under this project?  Most likely.
    3. One of Port Moresby’s major problems is unemployment.  How is this project expected to solve Port Moresby’s chronic unemployment problem?  And if there are indeed employment opportunities likely to come from this investment, just how sustainable are they?  Here’s the problem we see – if the general populous remain unemployed yet surrounded by “state of the art” facilities, how can they use these facilities if they can’t afford it?  If they can’t afford it, then most likely the facilities are intended for a completely different demography and the end result is that money circulates only within the exclusive audience thus pushing the general public away and the unemployment remaining unresolved.
    4. It’s China Town so you can expect the majority of developments owned and operated by Chinese.  Does this mean that businesses typically reserved for locals will be owned and operated by Chinese?  We’ve seen non-citizen Chinese operate Kai-bars which are reserved for citizens, what are the chances that that will continue in this new development?
    5. Just how exactly is this development of such magnitude expected to contribute to local SME?

    The most important point we’d like to raise is this – this is a private sector investment.  The investor isn’t handing out free money, are they.  They will be walking happily to the bank at the expense of what?  What are we having, what are we giving away?

    Until we are informed that this project is to have a far wider public benefit, the announcement of this project remains clouded with uncertainty.  What we do know is that we are expected to get a “state of the art masterpiece” – but our unemployment levels are at an all-time high. How can they afford to use the facilities in this “state of the art masterpiece” if we don’t have money in the pockets to spend?

    We need projects that directly contribute to solving our unemployment issue.  We’re not saying this project doesn’t have the potential, it’s just that not much is being released other than “state of the art”, “billion” etc…

    What’s in it for them, what’s in it for us?

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