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Tuna processor Frabelle PNG Limited is not shutting down its operations in the country although it recently laid off more 800 employees, according to company manager Daniel Noble.
He was responding to comments by PNG Fishing Industry Association executive officer Jonathan Manieva that the company was in the process of shutting down its Lae plant after laying off 849 workers recently.
Manieva had also said another company, Majestic Sea Food Limited, had closed its door and put up its plant for sale because of “harsh economic reality coupled with suppressive and depressive government policy”.
Noble said while the company had laid off some employees, it had not shut down the plant.
“Frabelle is not shutting down,” Noble said.
“We still continue to process our raw pack tuna lines at the moment and soon the tuna loins line.
“We temporarily stopped our canned tuna line because we are not able to get orders from our European Union (EU) market.
“EU buyers have slowed down, thus demand was low and the price is very competitive.”
He said because of the uncertainties, EU buyers had taken a wait-and-see attitude.
Noble said the company has paid the full entitlements of all the workers it laid off.
He said this was to keep them in a “stable situation” until they were recalled for employment when conditions improved and production resumed.
“This period (laying-off period) is also an opportunity to do our maintenance which we were not able to do last December,” Noble said.
Noble said Frabelle PNG Ltd had been operating in PNG for about 20 years and was committed to investing in the country.
“Our dedication and commitment for this country has been exhibited with our initiative to encourage more business players to come and invest in PNG and expanding and diversifying our operations
to make our business viable,” he said.
Meanwhile, two tuna processing companies in Lae are considering a merger because of the tough market conditions and low prices.
Majestic Seafood Corporation Limited general manager Napoleon Benitez said they were discussing a possible merger with Frabelle PNG Limited.
“We are studying how to be more viable and competitive including a possible merger with Frabelle and inviting investors,” Benitez said. “The nature of the tuna industry requires economies of scale to compete against other tuna producers around the world. By pooling resources and facilities with other companies or investors, we may be able to bring our cost down and stay competitive.”
He, however, denied a statement by the PNG Fishing Industry Association last week that the company had closed its doors and was putting its plant up on the market for US$45mil (K135mil).
Benitez said the company was still operating and processing booked orders from last year and early this year.
“Admittedly, there is a considerable slowing down of the business and the company is trying its best to get additional orders,” he said.
“However, current European Union market conditions are very competitive with low demand and very low prices.”
Meanwhile, Frabelle PNG Limited manager Daniel Noble confirmed that the company was studying a possible merger with Majestic Seafoods to boost capaciy.
Noble said his company had laid off some employees who would be recalled when market conditions improved.....
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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