The Foreign Investment Division has released its 2007 quarterly report. The report shows that business investment and employment in the Solomon Islands has continued to grow.A further 30 new foreign companies and individuals invested in the Solomon Islands in the second quarter of 2007, bringing the total number of new foreign investors to a record level of 143 since the new Act commenced in July 2006.
The value of planned investment in the second quarter of 2007 is approximately $600 million, increasing the total of planned investments since the commencement of the new Act to $2.3 billion. The value of planned investments was only $315 million over the same period before the new Act came into force. This represents an increased investment rate of seven times that of the old Act.
The Minister noted that foreign investment is helping to strengthen the Solomon Island economy and reduce its dependence on logging. Planned investment for the forestry sector accounts for 7 per cent of total planned investments. Planned investments in other sectors has increased, with foreign investment records showing that mining accounts for 42 per cent, communication 21 per cent wholesale and retailing 5 per cent, and other services 10 per cent of total planned investments. The economic impacts of these substantial investments will create more jobs, and more revenue for the Government to spend on social services.
The Minister said that he is satisfied with how the new Act is performing and he added that the Government will continue to pursue other reforms to improve the business environment and remove constraints to doing business in Solomon Islands.
The Minister explained that a SOE Bill has now been passed by Parliament this session and a number of Bills are being prepared for the December 2007 sitting including, a new Companies Act, a new Trust Act, a Special Economic zone bill, Work and Residency regulation and Secured Transaction legislation. This will improve some of the difficulties been experienced in doing business in Solomon Islands which will further attract more foreign and local investment.
The Minister also stated that other pro business reforms are gaining momentum, in particular the proposed abolition of most local business licenses, a rural business skills training programme, expansion of financial services, and on-going tax reforms.