LAST Friday afternoon, I caught a ride for the 3km journey home from 4-Mile, Port Moresby.
The driver introduced himself to me, saying he was from on one of the Highlands provinces and has been driving cabs for nine (9) years in the city. He said he lives in a suburb in Port Moresby where there are a lot of criminals. Because he pays for their betel nuts and cigarettes (those who hang alongside the road), he has never had any problems with them.
Photo: Cuthbertson Street in down town Port Moresby.
He also told me that he’d rather drive a cab than do any other type of job because, on average, he makes K1,800 each fortnight. The driver said: "When people ask me to do something else. I ask them: ‘How much are you people going to pay me? I am earning K1,800 each fortnight.’"
He said the car belonged to someone else, and he had to pay the owner K500 each Sunday.
“If I make K500 on Monday and Tuesday, imagine how much money I can make over the next four or five days – and all that is mine,” he said.
After some thought, I realized that this man was taking K1,800 home each fortnight - and all of that is “untaxed”. (Those of you who bring home pay slips would understand this.)
NB: K1,800 (A$830) each fortnight is a lot of money in PNG. Teachers and most other government workers are paid half that amount, if they are new on the job. Drivers in firms are paid far less than teachers.