THE Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), as the peak body representing private sector, hopes 2021 will see an increase in its membership.
2020 has been an extremely challenging year for business and this is directly reflected on the Chamber’s membership which has seen a 25% reduction in 2020 members with 183 financial members, SICCI reported at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday 24 March.
“One of the main area’s we have tried to focus on is providing up to date information but also to get information from our members to decision makers,” Outgoing Chairman, Jay Bartlett, said.
Surveys conducted provided the Chamber with valuable information that guides its advocacy efforts.
In 2020 SICCI conducted two COVID-19 Impact Surveys, a survey on the proposed Facebook Ban and the annual Business Confidence Survey.
“The survey data on Facebook was very valuable and was presented to the Prime Minister early this year which we think may have played a role in the reconsideration of the suspension.
“Our COVID-19 surveys helped determine the level of impact while the Business Confidence Survey gives us an idea of the challenges ahead. Evidence based advocacy works and takes away emotion and opinions from our discussions,” Mr Bartlett said.
As an organisation that strives to achieve excellence in Governance, SICCI have hosted a number of Directorship Programs with the Institute of Directors New Zealand with the aim to deliver another program for an additional 25 participants in April later this year.
On the Advocacy front, advocacy in the last 12 months have been challenging as the Chamber along with its members reacted to the impacts of the global pandemic and the economic fallout that followed.
Mr Bartlett highlighted that in the past year the Chamber made a submission to the Oversight committee on the Economic Stimulus Package.
“In it we had outlined some very practical measures that we believed would support the private sector and the economy. We also lobbied our National Provident Fund to allow impacted workers withdrawals from their contributions, this alone injected 100million into the economy,” he said.
Also, in 2020, the Chamber established two industry working groups for sector specific support and to allow the Chamber to draw on the membership for technical support.
Both the Building Construction Working Group (BCWG) and the Manufacturing Industry Working Group (MIWG) are agile teams that can be proactive on specific issues while keeping the SICCI Board free to focus on core issues.
The Chamber have also revised its MoU with the Government in July 2020 and since then have held 3 Advisory Group. Discussing issues of concern such as the Inclusion of Private Sector in National Budget Process, Involvement of SICCI in Oversight Committee, COVID-19 impacts on businesses, Medium Term Development Plan of SIG and the Redirection Policy.
Mr Bartlett said in 2020 SICCI has also hosted three RSIPF-SICCI meetings, “which we have attempted to address the Road Transport Board which deals mainly with traffic issues, Crimes Prevention Strategy, and important updates from RSIPF on COVID-19 border security.”
“More recently we have held Climate Change Workshop with SIG on Accessing Climate Change Funds by the Private Sector and a Position Paper on the case for reviewing Electricity Tariffs in the Solomon Islands.
Finally, as part of its ongoing Advocacy Efforts the Chamber has developed the Private Sector Pathway to COVID-19 Recovery Strategy.
This Strategy will be used to focus SICCI consultations and collaboration with Government and advocacy efforts to ensure tangible action on key reforms.