The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) has expressed regret over the withdrawal of Japanese nickel mining giant Sumitomo Metal Mining, and called for improvement to the regulatory policies for incoming investors and businesses.
SICCI Chair Jay Bartlett said it is unfortunate and regretful for a major international investor such as SMM to leave the Solomon Islands after spending most of its time and resources in the courts.
Mr Bartlett stressed the importance of a transparent legislative and regulatory framework for all investors and business to avoid another loss of a potential contributor to the economy.
Retaining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is just as important, if not more important, than attracting FDI, he added.
He said SMM’s withdrawal is a huge loss for the country especially at a critical time when we need to broaden our narrow economic base and look at alternative growth in other sectors to replace the logging sector. Unfortunately, unclear regulatory systems are disincentives for prospective investments and the departure of SMM is a classic example for us to learn from.
“What message does the closure bring to potential investors?”
“The Chamber views Sumitomo’s withdrawal a loss and an opportunity missed for the economy,” said the Chair. “This has cost potentially hundreds of jobs for many Solomon Islanders and the loss of benefits for resource owners.”
Mr Bartlett said furthermore many local businesses and service providers are going to be affected.
The Chamber acknowledges SMM’s decision to leave based on the plunge of bauxite pricing, however, also noting the implications of the 6 years long legal battle for nickel mining rights at Isabel Province.
SICCI is concerned and pleads to relevant government authorities to ensure internal regulatory systems are robust, credible and encourages FDIs inflows.