The liberalisation of the telecommunications industry has the potential to be of tremendous benefit to the economy, through the lower charges associated with competition.

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SICCI, made the statement in its response to the new Government's prompt release of their Policy Statement.

It stressed on the need for the government to address a number of key issues prior to the passing of any new legislation.

"... the function and financing of the telecommunications' regulator must be decided, through stakeholder consultations and the issue of how the regulator be financed must be addressed, since independence will only be achieved through independent financing," SICCI said.

The Chamber added that adequate funding for the regulator must be ensured, and the regulator must have the resources necessary to monitor tariffs effectively and enforce competitive behaviour, amongst other things.

It also stressed on the need to deal with the issue of rural development in telecommunications, questioning the current policy of leaving Telekom with the full financial burden of rural development, a cost which is passed on directly to the consumer.

"Rather than having a system whereby Telekom customers subsidise rural development through high prices, it may be preferable for the government to fund rural development through a combination of license fees and grants contributing to subsidise companies operating at a loss servicing rural areas," the Chamber said.