Probing the shadow

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Ministry of Commerce hunts down foreign businesses operating illegally

BY LYNTON AARON FILIA

Minister of Commerce, Industry, Labour and
Immigration William Bradford Marau.

FOREIGN investors doing retail business outside the city boundary and in residential areas are facing the axe under the ministry of commerce’s crack down on illegal businesses.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration (MCILI) is going hard against illegal businesses following public outcry over the surge in retail shops owned by Bangladeshi nationals outside the city boundary and in residential areas.

Minister for MCILI William Bradford Marau said the Attorney General’s Chamber has advised the ministry to take action because foreigners are already operating in residential areas and outside the city boundary. These are said to be illegal activities.

The advice from AG Chamber gives the ministry the urge and commitment to carry out their work and to issue stop notices to these operators carrying out illegal activities.

“That does not mean only the Bangladesh nationals,” he said.

He assures that MCILI will be issuing 10-day notices shortly.

Marau said this operation began last year. 10 foreign nationals had responded to the 10-day notices, and this year, 12 had reportedly responded.

He said they will continue to ensure foreign investors comply with the country’s laws.

Marau said ministry of commerce has the right to stop foreign investment operating here, and their action is based on the country’s Act under foreign investment.

“We will continue to take actions and already we get advice from AG Chamber that what happened already is illegal—make references to the Bangladesh national who doing business in residential areas,” he said.

If they continue, they are liable to face consequences, Marau said.

Director and Registrar of Foreign Investment Division, MCILI, Mr Derick Aihari reiterates the Minister’s call and said now they are visiting and checking on places which have been reported to them.

“Operate illegally means they do not comply to our requirements, so it means if they operate outside the city boundary and in residential areas, we will stop them, and we will do that.

“The process is 10-day notice to allow them time for move out and if they still do not comply we will take actions to stop them from doing business.”

Aihari explained that MCLI have a foreign investment regulation 2006, following that there was an amendment 2005 and an amendment regulation 2016 and such laws has a reserve list for both local and foreign investors.

MCILI, Under Secretary Technical Supervisor and Chairman for Business Monitoring Joint Agency Committee, Mr Morris Rapa’ai said there is a committee established that comprises of relevant stakeholders.

Rapa’ai said the purpose of the Business Monitoring Joint Agency Committee is control the influx of foreigners and immigration in the country.

He said the committee, which consist representative from, MCILI, HCC, Guadalcanal province and other relevant stakeholders, will act as a watch dog for implementers of the country’s law.

Rapa’ai explained the committee was formed in 2017 with the aim to re-look into monitoring and enforcement activities for doing business in Solomon Islands.

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