RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, yesterday called on business leaders to work together with government and RAMSI to sustain the economic recovery of Solomon Islands.

At a presentation to the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mr George said that while the economy had shown good growth since the return of peace, Solomon Islands faced big challenges over the next few years as logging declines.

"Logging is Solomon Islands major export and is a major contributor to Solomon Islands economic activity and government revenue," Mr George said.

"Alternatives to logging need to be found and developed if we are to achieve sustained improvements in the livelihood of Solomon Islands people."

Mr George said that RAMSI wanted to leave behind strong institutions of government that could address these future challenges.

"RAMSI advisers working in the Ministry of Finance have shifted their focus from doing the job of managing the economy, to supporting staff, strengthening systems and importantly, helping to develop a sense within the Ministry that it can effectively develop and implement government economic policy," Mr George said.

"The Ministry of Finance with the support of RAMSI is working create the right environment for you, the business community, to engage in activities which can generate income and wealth that flows across Solomon Islands."

CEO of the Chamber, Daniel Tuhanuku, said the Chamber strongly supported the work of RAMSI.

In response to member's interest in the progress of capacity development, Mr George said, "The Economic Reform Unit, which is focused on removing major barriers to growth is led by a senior Solomon Islands manager.

"The team includes several RAMSI advisers working alongside Solomon Island officials to both support policy development but also to build capacity"

Mr George outlined some of the key achievements of the government's Economic Reform Unit which is supported by RAMSI capacity development advisers.

Four new pieces of legislation have been drafted, including the Secured Transactions Act which was recently passed by Parliament; major reforms have occurred within State Owned Enterprises such as Solomon Islands Water Authority, and designing and implementing the government's medium term fiscal strategy.

RAMSI has also assisted the government in their talks with the national telecommunications provider, Our Telekom, on a way forward to implement the government policy to open the market to competition.

Mr George thanked the Chamber and the business community for their cooperation in developing some of these reforms, noting that reform often meant business changing the way they do things.

"I understand the cooperative approach worked well in the development of the Foreign Investment Act and the new Companies Bill," Mr George said. "The reforms are about helping to create a bigger pie for everyone."

As a result of the Foreign Investment Act planned new investment has increased by seven fold and the processing time for approving new foreign investments has reduced from several months to just five days.

He said the Chamber has a vital leadership role to play in the business community.

"I congratulate the Chamber on its good work and the constructive relationship we share. The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries has an important role to play in encouraging businesses to train and develop their workforce, to develop the business leaders of tomorrow," Mr George said.

"Businesses need to be encouraged to look for opportunities to develop their businesses and tap into new markets, both domestically and within the region."

Mr George said that by working together, RAMSI, the Solomon Islands Government and the business community can face the challenges to sustained economic growth, and improve the prospects and living standards of people.

RAMSI Press Release