THE Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) encourages the Government and relevant authorities to ensure there is sufficient local content included in the billion-dollar worth of infrastructure projects that are planned for the next five years to enable the economic benefit to remain inside Solomon Islands.
SICCI Chairman Ricky Fuo’o highlighted this when SICCI representatives appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently during the inquiries into the 2021 Appropriation Bill 2021.
Considering the number of foreigners currently competing across certain industries in Solomon Islands, one of the things SICCI is advocating on is for Government to focus on local content.
“That is to formulate some form of threshold, where certain number of contracts are reserved for indigenous businesses and individuals. This can be done not only for the construction industry but also for suppliers and across all industries,” Mr. Fuo’o, said.
The SICCI Chair said this is purposely to protect our local industries, businesses and local jobs.
“For most indigenous businesses and existing businesses, all the money we make and spend stays in the country. If we continue to promote local content and protect local businesses that would have a big impact on economic growth as well,” he told members of the PAC.
“Local competition is growing and international competitions are coming in but there is no form of protection for local industries and indigenous business owners,” he added.
Solomon Islands has a large pipeline of infrastructure projects that is about to be spent into our economy which the Chamber considers as being a key factor in the country’s economic recovery.
“One other thing we have been advocating for on a lot of these large international contracts is to see local content built into it.
“So that a certain percent of that work is down streamed to local contractors, local suppliers and local businesses.
“While we have these big expenditures of infrastructure, there is that spill over effect into the local economy, to ensure we are not just by-standers when a lot of these infrastructure are getting built and delivered,” Mr. Fuo’o said.
SICCI also understands that there are currently around SBD7.5 billion worth of infrastructure projects that are either underway or tabled for the next four (4) to five (5) years.
Some of the timeframes may have been extended due to the economic and logistical challenges brought on by COVID-19 on these projects including Solomon Water Capital Works (SBD 760M), Tina River Hydropower (SBD 1.95bn), ADB Ports and Road program (SBD 1.115bn), Kukum Highway Phase II (SBD 256M), World Bank Roads and Aviation Project (SBD 451M).
There are also the bilateral agreements with Development partners such as the sport stadium and construction work proposed for the 2023 Pacific Games which total to an approximate SBD2.5bn.