Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce representatives as well as other business and legal professionals yesterday attended a special information and training session on the use of the new, modernised Companies Act.

ADB assisted the Solomon Islands Government by supporting the drafting of the bill, which was prepared following extensive local consultations in Honiara and the provinces.

At yesterday's seminar, participants were informed that the improved Companies Act presents a range of new choices for Solomon Islanders who plan to use a company as a vehicle for business. Once a company is established and running, the new compliance requirements in the Act will ensure lower transaction costs for company owners. More relevant reporting requirements contained in the new Act will strengthen corporate governance.

The new Act supports the formation of single shareholder companies, and introduces the concept of community companies. A community company may comprise of a women's group, a group of farmers, or landowner groups, among others. Community companies operate in the interests of their members, and utilize community assets such as fishing boats, handicrafts, or domestic food for the benefit of the entire community as well as preserving the sustainability of those assets for future generations.

The new Company Registrar, Edwin Saramo, who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Companies Act and educating the public about new business laws, was introduced at the seminar.

"The ADB supported reforms pave the way for a simplified and modern process of company registration and administration," said Edwin Saramo, new Companies Registrar. "The new Companies Registry Office will be a focal point for businesses and a resource for learning more about new business laws."

"The new Companies Act will ultimately make it easier for local people to conduct business in Solomon Islands," says Eugenue Zhukov, Regional Director of ADB's Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney, Australia. "Today's information session is the first in a series of workshops to assist local people with opening and operating a business."

The co-financed grant package is part of the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), established by ADB in 2006 with funding from the Australian Government.

The new Companies Act in Solomon Islands is part of a larger regional effort by ADB to introduce company law which is more suitable for small island economies. The new laws are tailored to suit the business environment in Pacific countries and assist with overcoming high costs associated with geographic barriers in the region. ADB is also supporting company law reform initiatives in Tonga and Vanuatu.

The Company Registry and the new business laws, are part of a shared commitment of the Solomon Islands Government and the ADB, towards improving the business environment in Solomon Islands.

Source: Press Release, Government Communication Unit and ADB