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Gov’t Endorses Arrangements to assist Businesses Affected by 2021 Riot and Looting

The government through the Cabinet endorsed the implementation arrangements to assist businesses affected by the civil unrest in November last year.

Minister of Finance and Treasury Hon Harry Kuma announced this in parliament on 8 August 2022.

Minister Kuma said a sum of SBD125 million was allocated in this year’s budget to support businesses that were destroyed, burnt and looted during the unrest.

Minister of Finance and Treasury Harry Kuma

The implementation mechanism to assist affected businesses has two parts.

“One, the government will directly manage the first part. The first part, the type of support under this part includes, possible import duty and goods tax exemptions on imported materials, machinery for construction, equipment or restocking goods to businesses committed to resume operations. Second, possible tax relief on a case by case basis on possible rental relief for affected businesses, stamp duty exemption on mortgages if businesses seek additional financial support from commercial banks, options for possible cash grants.

“ The second component will be managed through our commercial bank which includes the Development Bank of Solomon Islands. Type of support includes loan relief support. This relief includes interest payment on existing loans up to six months on affected businesses, concessional financing which includes special products with the Development Bank of Solomon Islands to support affected businesses wishing to rebuild their properties and restock,’’ Minister Kuma explained.

Shops at Chinatown burned down during the November 2021 civil unrest

The Finance and Treasury Minister confirmed that a technical team is formulating the guideline which will administer the two implementation components.

“In terms of the criteria for support, the technical team chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce is currently formulating our guideline that will accommodate the implementation of the two components. Affected businesses will be informed on the criteria and commencement of the support,’’ Mr Kuma said.

He said the package is for businesses that were directly impacted by the unrest.

The list of businesses that were affected was put together by an independent team from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

According to a technical report developed by ADB, a total of 126 businesses were directly affected as a result of the unrest.

This includes public and private properties.

By Fredrick Kusu

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