Gov’t urged to consider support for businesses amidst COVID-19 impacts

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) is defining actions for Government to take that would help businesses in the country alleviate the impacts associated with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Some of these actions should consider leniency for struggling businesses who have loans with commercial banks, and cash-flow support for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to stay in business.

“Reducing power tariffs, we also believe, is the single most important action that Government can take at this time. It does not impact on Government revenue, and will throw for businesses big and small, a crucial lifeline that can cushion the hardships we know will only worsen in the coming months,” SICCI said in its statement today (Thursday 19 March 2020).

An outcome of an urgent meeting between a business delegation led by SICCI and the Chair of the COVID-19 Oversight Committee on Wednesday 18 March 2020, the Chamber Secretariat is working to facilitate COVID-19 specific support for businesses.

SICCI said that discussions are progressing, with businesses already identifying an immediate need for Ministry of Health and Medical Services to visit them and talk them through their preparation efforts to highlight gaps.

Other businesses have relayed to SICCI their need for supplementary medical supplies due to the large numbers of workers housed in their compounds and working in their factories. Yet others have asked for increased visibility of police to deter opportunistic unlawful behaviour.

The SICCI statement noted efforts by Government through the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT) to work on a support package for the World Bank under its global pledged USD12 billion COVID-19 support package.

This is following announcements by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of USD50 billion and World Bank USD12 billion to help the world’s poorest countries and ones at high risk, to manage COVID-19 outbreaks.

The support package is to be utilised to strengthen Government systems in responding to the virus, as well for private sector to reduce economic impacts.

SICCI is committed to tabling meaningful interventions for Government to consider for this support package based on businesses’ experiences so far.