Investment Policy and Promotion Strategy to Minimize Foreigners Taking up Businesses Reserved for Locals Now in Draft Stage
The influx of foreigners conducting businesses in the local reserved business space around the capital, Honiara is the result of the country’s Open Sky Policy.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration Riley Mesepitu explained, the current Open Sky Policy was initially developed to help the country recover from the impacts of the ethnic tension in the early 2000s.
This has limited the ministry’s power in making sure businesses reserved for locals are well protected.
Mr Mespitu said the government’s new Investment Policy and Promotion Strategy which they are currently working on is to address the issue of foreigners taking up businesses reserved for locals.
“The old policy is an open sky policy, some of the conditions and criteria do not really close the gap that’s why there has been many complaints raised as to why there are many Bangladesh people and other foreigners coming into the country,” Mr Mespitu said.
Mr Mesepitu said many of the foreigners have identified weaknesses in the Open Sky policy that enabled them to start businesses in the country.
“It is a good thing that foreigners have created businesses in the country that is what we want however there is also the concern around the issue of foreigners taking up businesses reserved for the local population, one case we’ve come across is the Bangladesh people are using locals to create businesses, they marry a local which enables them to operate in the local reserved business space,” Mr Mesepitu said.
Currently there is no law or policy that can deal with such cases.
Another key addition under the new policy is the participation of landowners in key business investments.
Partnership of landowners in the productive sector is crucial to protecting their rights and ensuring their involvement in the business sector.
“In the mining sector as in the other sectors landowners and locals are not allowed to become part of the business, resource owners want to become part of the whole operation, the landowners might want 20 percent of the company’s shares however under current laws and policy that is not allowed, the new policy will help address the landowner’s rights,” the Permanent Secretary said.
The draft policy will be submitted to the Cabinet soon for approval.
By Sharon Nanau