Lack of consultation & short notice for public holiday irks businesses

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Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) on behalf of its members has expressed disappointment over the lack of consultation and the short notice given in regards to the public holiday on Wednesday 18 November, 2020.

This puts further constraints on business operations at a time when businesses are already facing difficulties due to the global pandemic and downturn of the country’s economy.

SICCI raises these concerns on behalf of its member businesses after Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, without adequate notice, declared a public holiday to observe the by-elections in Central Honiara and North East Guadalcanal constituencies.

SICCI, as the peak body representing private sector, this week submitted a formal letter to the Minister of Home Affairs and the Chief Electoral Officer registering these concerns on the short notice given and how businesses have been affected.

“To help foster business confidence in such difficult times we suggest that a review be considered in the future for business operations during elections because public holidays are costly for businesses,” SICCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Natalina Hong, said.

“From the feedback we received related to the public holiday, two main concerns are financial implications and human resources impacts as companies had a very short time to action changes and consider their cost of operations” she said.

She added: “There are already nine designated public holidays in the Solomon Islands calendar year apart from the annual Second Appointed days, which are also public holidays for each of the nine provinces. That makes around eighteen public holidays in a year.

“Companies value the Schedule of National and Provincial Public Holidays list circulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs at the start of every year, and plan according to it.

“So, we urge the Ministry responsible, to help foster business confidence by adhering to it when a well-reasoned holiday is to be gazetted, an advance notice period of at least one month is given.”

In her letter to the Minister and Chief Electoral Officer, SICCI CEO, Ms Hong reiterated the fact that currently businesses are going through a difficult economic situation due to the global pandemic.

“A review in the future to take into account business costs associated with additional public holidays during the year by the Government will be useful given the context of the global Pandemic,” Ms Hong said.

SICCI remains committed to the spirit of public-private sector partnership and will continue to advocate on behalf of its members, to realise a conducive business environment in the country and road of recovery ahead.

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