Crime restricts PNG’s economic growth

Businesses operate at half potential: Report

Crime is costing Papua New Guinea severely despite its rapid economic growth – due to reach 20 per cent next year- according to a series of new World Bank reports. The bank says that 81 per cent of businesses in PNG are restricting their investments due to crime concerns -with 66 people in every 100,000 being murdered annually in Lae, the second city, for instance, one of the highest rates in the world. Robbery and assault are the most common crimes, the bank says, while “family and sexual violence is also highly prevalent.”

It says in its reports – which were requested by the PNG Government – that violence there “can be understood, at least partly, as a result of the inability of both traditional and formal institutions to manage the stresses that have come with rapid economic growth, increasing migration” from country to cities, and other factors. The longer-term social impacts of crime limit businesses from operating to their full potential, the reports conclude.

They say this “creates fear that constrains mobility of staff and clients, erodes trust, and reinforces stigma towards certain groups perceived to be dangerous, especially youth.” Domestic violence in particular intrudes into the workplace – where more than two thirds of businesses employ private security staff, with almost a third deploying 10 per cent or more of their total spending on security, and with theft costing the average business US$40,000 a year. The reports, by Sadaf Lakhani and Alys Willman, say that there is “significant under-reporting” of crime in PNG, especially of murders.

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