The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) met with the Prime Minister and his senior staff last week Friday to present business concerns and also engage on managing our economy’s recovery from COVID-19 impacts.

From the Chamber side, the SICCI Board was represented by the Chair, Jeremy Bartlett, the Vice Chair, Ricky Fuoó and SITCO General Manager, Kazi Mushfiqur Rahman as Chair of SICCI’s Manufacturing Industry Working Group (MIWG). The SICCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was secretary to the discussions.

The discussions covered topics such as the MoU recently renewed between SICCI and Government, and the intention for the Chamber’s advocacy platforms the Building and Construction, and the Manufacturing industry working groups. The meeting also heard how the ongoing global pandemic is impacting on our companies and industries.

“The long-term advocacy goals for SICCI from its membership, is addressing barriers to business growth in the country such as cost of doing business, and reforms to our tax system, as well as the effective implementation of our laws and regulations. We urge that these enablers for private sector growth are not forgotten,” SICCI said in a joint media statement.

In relation to the appreciation of business hardships, the statement was confident that the message was well-received.

“The latest SICCI survey shows that companies are now facing cashflow stresses related to lower demand for their goods and services and most do not have deep pockets to tide them through. This latest SICCI survey also showed impact on more than five hundred workers across our different sectors.

“Of immediate worry is that no more jobs are lost, and hard-fought investments in the country are not whittled away even further.”

In response, Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare said SICCI will be invited to closely participate in Government policy redirection during this COVID 19 period.

Acknowledging the important role private sector plays in Solomon Islands, the Prime Minister said: “The 2021 Budget presentation will be delayed to early next year because after the Parliament meets to extend the State of Public emergency next week, it will basically be redirecting priorities. There will be lots of areas that needs improvement. We will have to closely involve SICCI in these processes.”

The SICCI Board left the meeting, feeling abit more optimistic that there will be due consideration given to these red flags for our economy, when Government undertakes its reprioritisation of the national budget for 2020, and in preparing for 2021 budget.

“The private sector, the businesses and companies who have been here through the country’s ups and downs, will strive to endure but in order to keep their doors open and workers engaged meaningfully, any stimulus measure must balance where interventions are intended to keep afloat, and where it is made, to stimulate new productivity.

“We will keep raising the experiences our members are facing so that legal, policy solutions are arrived at, fully informed of the risks to livelihoods of business owners, the workers and the many many households and communities who rely on them,” the SICCI statement said.

Meanwhile PM Sogavare congratulates SICCI for creating two additional working groups, the Manufacturing Industry and Building and Construction working groups.

“There are heaps of things that needs to be put right in these industries. Current building codes are outrageous. Honiara must be phase-lifted, this is a painful reality that needs to be taken,” the Prime Minister said.

Source: SICCI Media