IFC Pacific looks to foster investment in Solomons
International Finance Corporation expand its operations in Solomon Islands and looks to foster small businesses.
The International Finance Corporation, or IFC, says one of the focuses of its expansion in Solomon Islands will be helping small businesses grow.
The IFC, which is the commercial arm of the World Bank, has just signed a cooperation agreement with Solomon Islands government.
Its regional manager in the Pacific, Gavin Murray, told Amelia Langford the IFC wants to help foster private sector investment.
GAVIN MURRAY: We plan to base probably four to five staff there permanently and then they are supported by specialists and experts coming in from other places but we have upgraded the position in the Solomon Islands to a resident representative, so it is now similar to our presence in Papua New Guinea or Timor Leste.
AMELIA LANGFORD: What is the IFC trying to do here, what are its aims?
GM: We sort of have a strategy that works in three different areas. One is on the enabling environment so this is the government's rules and regulations, their business licensing and registration, their tax systems, all of those sort of things that are in place and may actually be an impediment for business to establish and operate. In a lot of countries, and Solomons is a good example, a lot of business is informal which actually means that they operate outside of those rules and regulations. So, by simplifying a lot of that process, you can encourage small business, particularly women-owned businesses to move into the formal sector and be a greater contributor to the economy. The other two areas which we want to move to now, under this new arrangement, is really looking at larger scale opportunities to support infrastructure development. Right now, there is quite a bit of work being done on a hydro-electricity project that will provide cheaper and more reliable energy or electricity for Guadalcanal - the main island in the Solomons. At the same time, we have been working on the fishing side, the fisheries sector in the Solomons, and have recently completed an investment in SolTuna, which is the only tuna loining and canning facility in the country. It's located in the Western Province.
AL: So, why the focus on Solomons now?
GM: It is not so much now (laughs). I guess as we have been growing our programme across the Pacific we have spent a lot of time focussing on countries like Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. The Solomons obviously has had a fairly torrid time over the last decade and we just see it as, as the economy is growing, as the country is getting itself back on its feet, with the phase out of RAMSI in the country, we just see it as a logical opportunity for us to be building our presence there and our support to the private sector.
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