by Alfred Maesulia
The Department of Commerce has just concluded the first stage of its Business Law Reform consultations in Malaita and Western Province.
The Permanent Secretary of Commerce, Industries and Employment, Jeffrey Wickham, led the team which consisted of legal experts from the Asian Development Bank, the Company Registry as well RAMSI and Solomon Island staff from the Economic Reform Unit in the Ministry of Finance.
During their consultations a number of issues were raised with the team by Provincial Governments, local business operators, business leaders and the public about the difficulties faced by Solomon Islanders wanting to start, operate and expand their own business:
• The cost of registering a business or starting a company, which can be thousands of dollars, is too high for most Solomon Islanders to afford;
• The process of registering a business or starting a company is very time consuming and involves a lot of unnecessary paper work; and
• The current business laws and regulations are unclear and difficult to understand.
The Business Law Reform project aims to address these concerns and help Solomon Islanders to quickly and easily start and operate their own registered business. The project will:
• Modernise and rewrite the Companies Act and other legislation related to business regulation;
• Streamline the business registration process to make it cheaper, quicker and easier to start a business;
• Improve company structures so it is easier to get a loan from a bank; and
• Make it quicker and easier to enforce a business contract.
The consultations are part of a 2 year Department of Commerce project, funded by the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank to reform the business laws in Solomon Islands.
Commenting on the consultation process, the Minister for Commerce, Industries and Employment, Hon. Peter Shanel, said: “The Business Law Reform project being run by my Department is very important for the future of Solomon Islands. Better business laws will encourage a strong local business base, which will help more Solomon Islanders to get jobs and earn a good income to support themselves, their families and their communities. It also means that the government will be able to collect more tax revenue, meaning more clinics, schools, roads, and other services will reach rural grassroots people.”
Further Provincial and business consultations are planned in the future to get more feedback on how new business laws can best help Solomon Islanders to start and run businesses. Suggestions can also be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or posted to Jeffrey Wickham, Department of Commerce, Industries and Employment, PO Box G26, Honiara.Press release emailed to TARD by Betty Fakari'i (under-secretary in Solomon Islands Ministry of Provincial Government & Rural Development)