Solomons ‘To Tackle The Bottleneck In New Investments’

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Solomons ‘To Tackle The Bottleneck In New Investments’ Government plans free economic zones throughout country

By Alfred Sasako

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 1, 2015) – As the Solomon Islands awaits the 2015 national budget to be handed down later this week, the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government is moving to tackle the bottleneck in new investments.

This will be done through the creation of free economic zones in strategic areas around the country, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said on Tuesday.

Special legislation to create these free economic zones is being drafted.

The proposed legislation is expected to be introduced in the June/July session of Parliament.

Investors’ interests will be taken on board, he added.

Among other things, the proposed legislation would create special economic zones in strategic locations throughout the country.

These free economic zones would carry investment incentives such as tax holidays, duty exemptions and so on.

"These incentives would be packaged according to each sector or industry. This would give the investor the opportunity to select from a regiment of investment packages in line with his company’s activities," Mr Sogavare said.

He said amendments to existing legislation would be introduced so that there is uniformity with the provisions of the new legislation.

For example, there would be no need to apply to the exemption committee for exemptions as these would be taken care by the new legislation.

"The package you’ve selected is your passport to do business in this country without having to wait."

"We must be creative in order to move forward. In my view, the creation of special economic zones with investment packages is the way forward.

"Without packaging investment incentives, this country would continue to remain where it is for the next 100 years," he said.

"We don’t want to do that, do we? We must move forward in order to attract foreign investment," Prime Minister Sogavare said.

The move is expected to receive national acclaim, particularly from the private sector as well as the provincial governments.

Foreign investors in particular are expected to welcome the move.

In the past, many have had to decide whether or not to wait or move elsewhere due to long delays particularly in the grant of duty exemptions.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the new legislation would ensure the processes are streamlined so that an investor does not have to wait to get on with his company’s activities.

"Once you have selected a particular sector to invest in, you will be given a package of incentives. Those packages are your passport to do businesses in Solomon Islands.

You don’t have to go to the exemption committee for example, to get duty exemptions.

"The special free economic zone is the one-stop shop for investment in this country."

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