The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce (SICCI), the peak body representing the private sector in the country, refutes claims that overseas investment should be discouraged in the country. Solomon Island needs investment from abroad as well as encouraging domestic investments to flourish.
SICCI in a statement yesterday said, like other developing and small island states, Solomon Islands will need investment from abroad to complement domestic investments. SICCI’s CEO Mr Meone says “at the moment, our country is at a growth stage where we do not have adequate capital, technology and infrastructure, including skilled labour, to allow us to achieve sustainable economic growth.
“ It is therefore important that as a nation we provide an environment that is conducive to private sector investment, both domestically and from abroad. There is also the need to support existing businesses and SMEs so that they can reach their full potential.”
Investment from abroad brings huge capital inflows, technology, equipment and skilled labor while providing employment for many Solomon Islanders.
Other benefits include revenue via taxes and duties to the government and spillover effects such as transfer of skills, access to infrastructure and markets, and the positive flow-on effects to other businesses including SMEs. GPPOL is an example of a success story showing how partnership between companies abroad and local landowners can make a huge impact in our economy. GPPOL is co-owned by Guadalcanal landowning group with 20 percent shares providing jobs for Solomon Islanders.
Our current population is around 642,000 and growing, and every year we need to create 10,000 jobs to cater for the increasing population.
According to the National Statistics Office, Solomon Islands population is expected to reach 764,412 by 2025. Therefore, our biggest challenge as a country is to ensure that we are able to develop our economy, improve living standards, but most importantly create employment opportunities for our future generations.
Yes, we have abundant natural resources which can contribute to growth, but only if we manage them sustainably and attract investors to help us maximize the export potential of these resources. Of equal importance, we must also ensure that our systems and regulatory mechanisms are robust and fully resourced so that Ministries can provide strong regulatory oversight.
SICCI is of the view that as a nation we must be able to provide an enabling environment that is conducive to do business and to facilitate private sector led growth. SICCI applauds the Government’s initiative through the Ministry of Commerce to introduce Special Economic Zones (SEZ), but at the same time notes that there are issues that will need rigorous attention including ensuring that the SEZ does not create an uneven playing field for existing businesses.
SICCI as a peak body representing the private sector is grateful for the opportunity to have constructive dialogue with the Government and looks forward to working with relevant stakeholders including development partners to grow our economy.”