Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industries (TCCI) held its first Public Private Dialogue (PPD) of the year on Friday 26th February. TCCI will be holding 4 PPD’s this year and this is an initiative made possible by the support of the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP).
The highlight of the PPD was the attendance of the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni. The Deputy Prime Minister has been a supporter of TCCI PPD in the past.
Also attending from the Public Sector was the Solicitor General, Mr Sione Sisifa, the CEO of Ministry of Public Enterprise, Mr Sione ‘Akauola and CEO of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ms ‘Ana Bing Fonua. Senior Officials from the Ministry of Finance & National Planning, Ministry of Commerce & Labour, Ministry of Revenue & Customs, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Police were also in attendance.
Representing the Private Sector was the President of TCCI, Mr John Paul Chapman and members of the TCCI Council, President of the Retail & Wholesale Association, Mr John Sullivan, members of the business community and the Director of the Civil Society and representative of the informal sector, Ms Siale ‘Ilolahia.
The main focus of the PPD was on the presentation of a Sector Scan Report on Tonga Growth Sector Issues and Private Sector Engagement, Reform and Development Strategy. This study was carried out by Mr Kaveinga Tu’itahi of Tavana Consultancy for TCCI and also supported by PLP. The report focussed on the scan of 6 Sector Growth Committees (Tourism, Retail & Wholesale, Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture & Fisheries) set up during the previous Government identifying issues faced and recommending a way forward.
Whilst issues were raised from the floor on business licensing, tax clearance, trust and lack of consultation, emphasis was on the need to formalise the PPD mechanism and foster a closer partnership with Government as a key to moving forward. Reference was made by the TCCI CEO, Mr Viliami Takau to the Tonga Strategic Development Framework II, Organisational Outcome 1.2 on ‘Closer, more effective public/private partnerships with businesses’ and 1.3 on ‘Strengthened enabling environment for businesses’. He also referred to a Private Sector Statement made to the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting last October in the Cook Islands on the Policy and Enabling Environment Specific to MSME’s for Government to actively encourage open dialogue on all private sector policies in country.
Formalisation of the PPD mechanism in a partnership by the Government and the Private Sector, will strengthen the business enabling environment by promoting good public and corporate governance & transparency, promote trust, understanding, confidence and cooperation, help set the right priorities for both public and private sectors, promote sensible and workable reforms, promote growth and investment, promote compliance and a level playing field and allow for easier implementation and buy in.
The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged the report and the efforts of TCCI and requested that further discussions with the related Ministries be carried out. Mention was also made on bringing in other private sector organisations into the fold. TCCI will be meeting with key Ministries in the coming week to progress these discussions. In the meantime another PPD will be held in 3 months time.