SICCI Chairman, Jay Bartlett and Board Member, Craig Gibsone in discussion with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), as the peak body representing private sector in the country, looks forward to any opportunity to be able to provide needed input into the country’s 2021 national budget.

SICCI Chairman, Jay Bartlett highlighted this during a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare on Tuesday 5 January as the private sector anticipates 2021 to be another challenging year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

During a Business After 5 networking event SICCI hosted last month in December, the Economics Association of Solomon Islands (EASI) highlighted that the current real GDP growth rate is - 4.2%, compared to CBSI’s earlier prediction of -3.9% by CBSI, as of the end of 2020.

Mr. Bartlett said while this forecast is a cause for concern, it depends on how Government in partnership with its stakeholders manage the country’s economy moving forward and also largely dependent on commodities, major infrastructure projects being able to roll out.

“If there is an opportunity for the private sector to provide some input into the 2021 budget then that would be very much welcomed.

“Engagement with the private sector in the budget formation process is very important because the private sector as they say is the engine of growth.

“Businesses drive growth, create jobs and pay the taxes that finance services and investment and provides much needed revenue for Government,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett said involving the private sector in the budget process will also give some certainty back to businesses heading into 2021.

“Largely, uncertainty is one of the biggest challenge businesses have and will continue to have due to COVID-19 and its impacts.

“If we work together to provide certainty that would be very much welcomed by the private sector,” the SICCI Chairman said.

In his response, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare welcomes SICCI with its inputs into the Government Redirection Policy.

Prime Minister Sogavare said, the Redirection Policy includes re-sharpening the Development Budget. 

“Change the whole process of the Development Budget. Some items in the budget have been around for ages with little progress to show. They need to go. Resources must now be directed to the productive sector,” the Prime Minister said.

The second primary objective of the Redirection Policy is to ensure the country’s economy is sustained. This is where Government Ministries translate the political Government’s policy to sustain the economy.

“The Government welcomes inputs from SICCI,” invited the Prime Minister.  

As an outcome of the meeting, the SICCI-SIG Advisory Group, which is established under the MoU with Government, is working on meeting with the budget group from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury in the coming week.

About the author

Philip Lilomo is the Chamber's Media & Communications Officer. Philip writes most of the Chamber's media releases. He also manages the website contents, designs the Chamber's monthly newsletter, brochures and maintains the organisation's visual branding. 

Philip can be contacted on email: media@solomonchamber.com.sb 

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