The businesses community welcomes the government announcement that it is opening the national borders soon in July 2022. Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) continues to call for vigorous driving of full vaccination and maintain easing of restriction – as a key factor to business operations, preserving livelihood and employment. SICCI, as the peak organization representing private sector businesses in Solomon Islands emphasises that while we are fighting the spread of COVID-19, there is global evidence that longer and stricter lockdowns are ineffective measures to stop the spread and behaviour of the virus.
SICCI Chair, Ricky Fuo’o explains, “the most practical approach going forward to save communities and the economy, is for softer movement restrictions and ensure full vaccination higher, to over 80 percent rate so that we maintain employment and livelihood in an already tough environment to operate for businesses and employers”.
Mr Fuo’o added, while SICCI recognizes the absolute necessity to preserve the community’s safety and health during the COVID-19 community transmission, balancing the health and economy elements during an emergency crisis is absolutely vital to maintain the country’s endurance towards recovery.
It is evident with the current movement restrictions, more local employers are facing real threat of tough times ahead, to maintain their level of service or products, pay high overhead costs and preserve workers. Some, unfortunately have already made the decision to shut down business operations indefinitely due to COVID-19 disruptions on both the supply and demand side of the economy.
With the recent rise in fuel cost, there is high possibility the business sector will cripple particularly following the losses suffered by the sector from the November 2021 crisis.
“Should this happen, the government will lose a vital sector for its revenue”, stressed SICCI chair Ricky Fuo’o.
He also highlighted that if we focus only on the health sector, businesses will continue to pay the price of ineffective public health preventive measures that will increase unemployment and further devastate the economy and livelihood of the country.
“If the pandemic restriction is prolonged, after with second wave as is demonstrated in many countries experiencing COVID-19, the economic damage will increase exponentially at the national level”, further stressed Mr Fuo’o.
As much as SICCI welcomes the government’s move to gradually ease movement restrictions now, regular dialogue between the government and the private sector businesses is predominant because only then they will be able to identify measures that permit businesses to continue to operate safely without putting a strain on the health sector.
As part of its mandate to support affected businesses, SICCI is currently engaging in a survey called the ‘2022 COVID-19 Impact on Business Survey’, which aims at identifying the affected businesses both in and outside of the capital to date, to which the detail will be made in a separate publication.
Based on SICCI’s earlier survey on business confidence and impact of COVID19 towards the end of 2021, the result was already worrisome.
SICCI acknowledges members of the private sector in their continuous effort to ensure their employees are one hundred percent fully vaccinated.
SICCI maintains its stand as the peak organization representing private sector in Solomon Islands to represent the interests of the private sector businesses, an integral determinant of the country’s economy going forward.