The Solomon Islands Government (SIG)-Private Sector Advisory Group held its second meeting for 2021 on Wednesday 9th June 9, 2021 to discuss issues of concern and where representatives from both parties were able to share views and ideas on the best possibilities to improve the lives of our people and addressing issues affecting a private sector led growth.
The Advisory Group was established under the MoU between the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), as the peak body representing private sector in the country, and Government.
SICCI was led at the meeting by Chairman, Ricky Fuo’o and Vice Chair, Qila Tuhanuku including Board Members, Kazi Mushfiqur Rahman, Craig Gibsone and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Natalina Hong.
On the Government side, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Riley Mesepitu chaired the meeting and was joined by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Collin Beck and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Susan Sulu Dhari.
The Permanent Secretaries including the Deputy Secretary Technical from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Selwyn Takana provided an update from the Solomon Islands Government to the Group.
SICCI CEO, Ms Hong also took the opportunity to provide an update from the Chamber while the Chairman and Vice Chair provided updates on the Chamber’s Building and Construction Working Group (BCWG) and the Manufacturing Industry Working Group (MIWG).
Also on the agenda was an up-date on SICC’s proposed Local Content Policy, discussions around the recent announcement by the Prime Minister in regards to providing budgetary support to SICCI and the unlevel Playing Field-Local Shipping Industry.
SICCI Chairman, Mr Fuo’o acknowledged the importance of the Advisory Group to the private sector as the way forward to building on interactions and platforms that has been developed over the years and seek to further strengthen the relationship that is shared between both Government and Business.
“Our relationship is one I believe needs to function beyond political and commercial interests and underpinned by our collective commitment in building this great nation, to provide opportunities for our people and to fully realize our growth potential,” Mr Fuo’o said.
Mr Takana from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury assured the private sector of his ministry’s work to support the creation of a conducive business environment through tax reforms, tariffs and incentives from import and export duties.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Ms Sulu updated the Group on the country’s 2021 Development Budget while indicating their plan to expand the consultation process of the 2022 Development Budget to the private sector which will start as early as July or August 2021.
Ms Sulu also highlighted twenty-five (25) project priorities for the Ministry under its proposed infrastructure investment pipeline incentive and the possibility of consulting for the private sector’s labour needs to be included in Government’s priority areas for human resource development.
Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mr Beck provided an update on labour mobility and the country’s signed off trade agreements while his colleague from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration touched on labour policy and reform program the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration is currently undertaking.
Meanwhile, SICCI Chairman, Mr Fuo’o also stressed to the Group the importance of identifying a structured way from Government to channel all issues, concerns and ideas raised in these meetings to ensure action is been taken in terms of addressing them.
Mr Fuo’o reiterated that the Advisory Group was established under the MOU to accommodate these discussions between SIG officials from core Ministries and private sector representatives from SICCI on a quarterly basis.
“Through the Advisory Group, the Government and the private sector will work towards exploring solutions that a tailor-fit to Solomon Islands context. Both sides will work with the private sector to make recommendations towards the effective implementation of identified Public Private Partnership opportunities,” he said.
According to the Chamber, this is an important strategy to encourage Government to lend an open ear to the sector that creates the country’s wealth as well as pays taxes that support Government services.