4 Oct 2013

Sols Chamber of Commerce says more govt funding needed for rural areas

6:07 pm on 4 October 2013

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce says it would like the government to inject more funds into rural areas to help indigenous people utilise their land.

The Chamber says the dynamics of doing business have changed in Solomon Islands, as a growing Chinese population is creating tougher competition for locals.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce, Jerry Tengemoana told Beverley Tse there is room to develop the tourism and agriculture sectors but the government must take some responsibility for it.

JERRY TENGEMOANA: The problem we have here in the Solomons, in my observation, is lack of co-ordination. Things are not co-ordinated properly and ministries are not able to come out with what they're mandated to do. We have a ministry responsible for rural development. We have a ministry responsible for education. We have a ministry responsible for tourism. We have a ministry responsible for commerce and industry, as well as agriculture. Those ministries are supposed to assist indigenous people, but from what we have observed so far they are not doing what they're supposed to be doing.


JT: Well, that's what we need to... Our role as a chamber is to actually advocate for those issues to set a good platform for not just the locals, but any businesses who are investing in this country to have a conducive environment. But as a local, I would like to see some assistance, some money being allocated in the government budget for development purposes in the rural areas, so people can utilise what they have to improve their livelihoods.

BT: Why hasn't the government already done that?

JT: Well, I think they have done, to be fair on them, they have done a lot, as well. But their activities are not co-ordinated properly, so at the end of the year or day, we don't achieve anything or we don't achieve the expected outcome because people are doing things on an ad hoc basis or not co-ordinating in the proper way.

BT:You've mentioned that the Chinese tend to go into retail and wholesale businesses. Why don't they tap into things like agriculture, considering a lot of Chinese are experienced in market gardening?

JT: Well, I guess the challenge there is land issues. I guess that's where locals need to come out openly and offer their land for development. So while we're looking at the Chinese being so aggressive in certain areas, obviously they have the money to venture into those areas. So if locals could form partnerships with them by opening up their land for developments, I guess they would jump at those opportunities, as well.