THE Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) has acknowledged the move by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration (MCILI) to put a stop to foreigners who are illegally operating businesses which are on the reserved list for local Solomon Islanders.
There have been serious concerns raised recently by members of the small business sector and the general public regarding the alarming take-over of business opportunities reserved for locals such as small trade stores, canteen, fish and chips and other micro and small businesses in the country.
SICCI with 70 percent of its members representing small businesses is concerned that business opportunities reserved for local businesses, as prescribed by the Foreign Investment Act 2005 through the Reserved List has not been adhered to.
SICCI CEO Dennis Meone acknowledged the effort undertaken by the Ministry as timely and a step in the right direction.
“SICCI is a represented body and voice for the private sector and whilst we encourage and strongly support investment into the country through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), it is also imperative that investors do the right by adhering to the laws and policies of Solomon Islands.
“We welcome genuine investors who have the capacity to invest in our local economy and those that will abide with local laws,” added the CEO.
The Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA) has also reached out and informed SICCI that their members were also affected by the influx of non-Solomon Islanders operating the kind of businesses reserved for locals.
“We acknowledged the initiative taken by the government and the leadership shown by the Ministry,” says the CEO.
SICCI also welcomes and supports the creation of the newly Business Monitoring Joint Agency Committee which would comprises of relevant Government agencies and stakeholders.
“The committee will certainly bring more transparency and accountability to the process with a platform for an inclusive stakeholder engagement,” added the CEO.
MCILI’s role has become more diverse and plays a fundamental role in being the link to businesses and investment, and whilst we acknowledge the initiative that has been undertaken it is also important that more support and resourcing is rendered to the ministry.
“Building internal capacity will go a long way in ensuring internal regulatory systems are robust, credible and implemented,” says Meone.