THE Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) has applauded the Prime Minister for his Government’s continuous support to the private sector.
Representatives of SICCI on Thursday this week held discussions with Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela on the vital partnership between SICCI and the Government and on issues relating to private sector in the country.
Members of the SICCI Board, led by SICCI Chair Jay Bartlett and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dennis Meone, on Thursday, August 30, 2018 met with the Prime Minister at the Paul Tovua Complex, Parliament.
The courtesy visit was an opportunity for the SICCI Board to personally meet the Hon Prime Minister and to touch base on key private sector issues.
This meeting is a follow up on the Prime Minister’s Breakfast SICCI hosted in June earlier this year where the Prime Minister met with the private sector.
SICCI Chair, Mr Bartlett, thanked the Prime Minister for availing himself to meet the Board despite his busy schedule and applauded the Government for passing important legislative bills.
“As a Chamber, we are grateful for the strong relationship we have with the Solomon Islands Government and our continuous dialogue with the Prime Minister is a testament to the ongoing relationship SICCI has with the Government,” he said.
Amongst the key issues discussed was the Public Private Partnership (PPP) MoU agreement SICCI and the Government signed in 2017.
The MoU is critical as it provides a platform for policy dialogue, bolsters the understanding of Government of the needs of the private sector and strengthens Government relationship with businesses.
Bartlett has also acknowledged the Prime Minister and his Government for the new direction taken that places more emphasis on youths in the country.
SICCI CEO, Mr Meone also updated the Prime Minister on the four Advisory Group meetings held so far since the signing of the MoU.
“There has been some positive progress on certain issues that were discussed by the Advisory Group, but a lot of work needs to be done and ongoing dialogue needs to happen,” he said.
Discussions covered many important initiatives, including the legislative bills that have been passed in Parliament, such as the Anti-Corruption Bill (ACB), the tax reform agenda, the National Youth Policy including the Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI).
The Prime Minister was also briefed on the RSIPF-SICCI agreement for closer collaboration and assisting police in crime prevention.
Meone also highlighted the need for the private sector to be involved and consulted on the formulation of the 2019 national budget.
“The yearly Budget is the key fiscal tool that guides government expenditure each year, so we see increased dialogue around the Budget as a positive thing,” the SICCI CEO said.
Meone also congratulated the Government on the launching of the Solomon Islands National Youth Policy 2018-2030 last week that can transform economic potential of youths in economic growth, peace and stability.
YECSI was also highlighted and is an important part of the National Youth Policy.
YECSI is hosted by SICCI in partnership with Government support through the Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs.
The Prime Minister in response has encouraged SICCI to continue with the ongoing dialogue with the Government.
The Prime Minister said one of the key areas his Government is eager to fast track consultations on is the tax reform agenda.
“Some of us are of the view that we are heavily taxed. We need to improve the tax system and I am pleased to note that discussions between the Government, private sector and other stakeholders is ongoing,” he said.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to update SICCI on the Government’s legislative calendar.
“The Government has passed at least six legislations since March and we are eager to pass a few more before the dissolution of Parliament,” the Prime Minister said.