Investors: is the gov’t shutting us? - Solomon Star News

Investors: is the gov’t shutting us?

27 January 2021
Some of the Chinese owned shops at Lunga that were closed by the FIB.

FOREIGN shop owners mostly Chinese are questioning the actions taken against them by Foreign Investment Board (FIB) Deputy Director, Lynette Dawheya of the ill-treatment they received.

They described it as pathetic and very unprofessional indeed when they spoke to this paper over the weekend.

“Is the treatment we receive comes from the government or just from FIB Deputy Director and does it mean the government wants to shut us from investing in the Solomon Islands,” they told this paper.

While few Chinese-run shops have opened after FIB forced them to shut down a week ago most shops at the Capital Park near Burnscreek and Lunga area were still closed.

Information reaching this paper said that some shops were charged with a fine of $500,000 for opening shops against instructions.

“This is a huge fine for some of us and with all due respect, we have been following whatever laws of this country to run our retail businesses here in Honiara.

“The truth is after we were served with FIB notices to shut down we did it straight away but when we try to explain why some shops open when Dawheya and her FIB team including her daughter arrived to check us she scolded at us and just ignored us,” they added.

One shop owner also said that Dawheya also brought police officers with her orders.

“But according to our understanding of the laws in the Solomon Islands a police will only act in accordance with a court order,” one investor said.

The investor further added that they have tried every means to dialogue with FIB Deputy Director but they cannot do it because they were continuously ignored.

“Most of us shop owners are suffering now, our shops will only open if we pay the maximum fine imposed on us.

“If FIB can lenient with us through proper dialogue to come up with a common understanding so that we can pay half of the fine and open the shops for business to continue.

“Our local employers are now finding it difficult too, they kept on calling and asking as to when they will return to work and it’s very frustrating for all of us,” other shop owners said.

This paper after the mass closure of the Chinese shops is seeking clarifications and comments from FIB but to date, they haven’t responded.

Hunter Masuguria PS (Supervising) from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration (MCILI) respond two weeks ago.

“I understand the public would like to be informed of the exercise that we have been spearheading since last year 2020 and it is important that the leading questions must be answered with the right information so as to avoid public debate through social media and other means. 

“In your email, you specifically referred to the closure of foreign-owned shops and the responses we give will relate to this issue. 

“I must admit that the questions you raised are technical in nature and I would like to invite relevant technical officers from our ministry for their inputs,” Masuguria responded.

This paper is yet to receive a response from the relevant technical officers from MCILI.