THE Infrastructure, complex tax system, corruption and land are key impediments to growth and if addressed would help the private sector make a stronger contribution to inclusive economic growth in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Jay Bartlett, Board Chairman of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) made the statement in his opening remarks at the 10th Australia-Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane, Australia yesterday.
As the peak body representing private sector in the country, the Chamber as part of its goal to promote investment and growth recently commissioned a report to deeper understand the challenges and reform priorities of the Solomon Islands business community.
Bartlett highlighted to the Forum that efforts are been progressed in addressing these key areas with initiatives led by the Government, donor partners and supported by the private sector.
With Taxation, a Tax Review Committee has been established by the Ministry of Finance of which the Chamber is a member.
“The aim is to modernise, simplify and broaden the tax system though the introduction of VAT. This process can be expedited and will require consistent political will to drive it forward,” Bartlett said.
He said infrastructure and the costs to doing business remain a challenge.
“But investments in developments such as the current Kukum Highway Project, Coral Sea Cable and Tina hydro will dramatically change the economic landscape.
“These are only made possible by support and contributions by our development partners especially our neighbour and friend Australia.”
Bartlett said better roads, lower energy costs and faster, cheaper more reliable internet are game changing developments and will open up a lot more opportunities for innovation.
He said the recent passage of the Anti-Corruption Bill shows there is political will to address corruption.
“Corruption hinders progress and development across many fronts.
“Our collective focus now needs to shift to the implementation and the effectiveness of the legislation.
“Traditional & Customs Facilitation Bill, Political Parties Integrity Bill, Dual Citizenship Amendment Bill are currently in the pipeline and have the full support of the private sector. The good work must continue,” Bartlett said.
The SICCI Chair said current and future discussions with Government will continue to be constructive and explore solutions that will unlock new opportunities.
“Targeted discussions on policy direction, business regulation will keep the Government well informed and clear direction and action I believe will reap demographic and economic dividends in the coming years.
“For the Solomon Islands the importance of economic growth and job creation through the private sector moving forward will play a pivotal role in social and economic sustainability,” Bartlett said.