Thursday 30 July, Honiara – Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare was updated on the work and objectives of two industry working groups recently established under the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI).
This was during a courtesy visit on Friday 24th July made by representatives of the private sector organization led by the Chairman to the SICCI Board, Mr Jay Bartlett
These two working groups are the Building and Construction Working Group (BCWG) and the Manufacturing Industry Working Group (MIWG).
The BCWG will provide a platform for informed, expert discussions to formulate SICCI positions on measures that can be considered by Government and development partners relevant to the building and construction industry in Solomon Islands.
SICCI Vice Chair and member of the BCWG, Mr Ricky Fuoo highlighted to the Prime Minister that key focus for the BCWG are the National Building Code for Solomon Islands (NBCSI) and the Infrastructure Management bill.
“As a Chamber, we have taken this step in light of the major infrastructure developments that are expected to happen in our country and of course, especially at a time when we work towards hosting the 2023 Pacific Games.
“Further to that, we see it necessary that now is the time to push and ensure that we have building codes legislated under the Infrastructure Management Bill. This will ensure that materials used and our buildings are up to standard and in doing so we ensure safety for our people,” Mr Fuoo said.
The Infrastructure Management Bill once legislated will ensure that infrastructure in the country is properly managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID). The Bill will also highlight the standards in the National Building Code which MID can enforce in collaboration with the local or provincial governments.
Mr Fuoo said the BCWG will work together with Government agencies and have already met with the MID, the Honiara City Council (HCC) and the Ministry of Lands.
The SICCI Vice Chair also acknowledge Government for its efforts in trying to fast track national infrastructure projects despite the difficulties caused by the global pandemic which he says is timely in terms of securing much needed employment for local Solomon Islanders.
“We encourage local content in these important infrastructure projects as SICCI sees the infrastructure sector as key to drive economic growth and help us recover,” he said.
Meanwhile, General Manager of Solomon Islands Tobacco Company Limited (SITCO) and Chairman of SICCI’s Manufacturing Industry Working Group (MIWG), Mr Kazi Mushfiqur Rahman, who accompanied the Chamber delegation during the courtesy call, also took the opportunity to update the Prime Minister on the work and objectives of the MIWG.
“The MIWG aims to provide a platform for informed expert discussions focusing in the harmonization of administration, compliance and enforcement in industry.”
“We will bring these expert views and experiences, to positions on measures that should be considered by Government and its partners relevant to the manufacturing industry.
“This will ensure that local companies are not disadvantaged and local jobs are protected and will be a resource for Government and development partners to draw on when advancing and implementing policies impacting on the manufacturing industry in Solomon Islands,” he said.
“Compliance is one of the main things that is been emphasized. Government already has in place some of the best laws and regulations in this regard, and so what needs to happen now is for the administration to enforce it, and for businesses to comply. If that happens, local industries will flourish, no poor-quality products will come in from abroad while we maintain that demand locally,’ he added.
In response, Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare congratulated SICCI for the establishment of the two advocacy platforms the Building and Construction, and the Manufacturing industry working groups.
“There are heaps of things that needs to be put right and introducing the building codes is one of the painful decisions that needs to be taken if Honiara City is to be facelifted,” the Prime Minister said.
Discussions also covered the recent MoU renewed between SICCI and Government and how the ongoing global pandemic is impacting on our companies and industries.