As the peak body representing private sector, the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) believes the country has so much to offer in terms of business investment.
SICCI Chair, Mr Jay Bartlett made the statement at the 2018 Papua New Guinea investment conference which concluded on Tuesday in Brisbane, Australia.
SICCI is represented at the conference by Mr Bartlett and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dennis Meone who made a joint presentation on day two yesterday on Solomon Islands’ economy, key infrastructure projects, the business environment in the Solomon Islands and future growth opportunities.
“As a country Solomon Islands is ready for business investment and SICCI is keen to see foreign direct investments and we will work with potential investors.
“As a chamber, SICCI is driven by our vision to create jobs and improve welfare of Solomon Islanders.
“Talk about niche market in tourism, we got it. We probably need to invest in our infrastructure and human capital but the culture, fauna, floral and history is unique.
“Apart from the beautiful islands, beaches and people, we have many unique dive spots including WW2 wreckage,” he said.
Mr Bartlett said in the last 30 years the country’s economy was largely driven by agriculture and although we have lost our focus there is positive energy and drive in rebuilding the sector.
“Manufacturing is a small sector but there is opportunity to take advantage of the supply of labour and raw materials, with emerging ICT technology.
“In construction – the economy has grown and with increasing population pressure, Honiara has seen many infrastructure buildings gone up and demand for office space and homes is high,” he said.
Meanwhile, CEO Mr Meone said despite the challenges faced with infrastructure, economic and political reforms, the key is policy dialogue between Government and the private sector.
“The role of Government is fundamental to providing an enabling environment. It complements the role of the private sector which is to create jobs and deliver goods and services,” he said.
In regards to policy dialogue, Mr Meone highlighted the signing of a MoU with the government paving the way for structured and meaningful policy dialogue, and in building trust and relationship.
He also told the conference that the government is leading and undertaking tax reform which is a very positive step towards improving the business environment.
SICCI is part of the tax reform consultative committee and is working closely with the government and stakeholders in progressing the reform.
“We are making progress, although in small steps we acknowledge the progress. Currently we are in stage 1 of 3, which is aimed at improving and modernizing Tax administration.
In terms of corruption, SICCI has done a survey with its members and the top key impediment for businesses is corruption.
“We acknowledged the recent passage of the Anti-Corruption Bill (ACB) as an important framework for the fight against corruption. It is an excellent first step but more is needed to be done to regulate and implement the Act,” Mr Meone said.
The theme for the is conference is innovation and sustainability. Day 2 entirely focused on infrastructure, transport and logistics.
SICCI was invited to present on Solomon Islands economy and the business environment, and the Chair and CEO had used the opportunity to also highlight the opportunities for investment in the country.
The conference promotes broad-based economic growth in PNG to the international business community, showcasing a wide range of industry sectors focussing on business opportunities with a top-notch, expertly curated program and a high percentage of CEO and board-level delegates in attendance.