FINAL consultation on the Special Economic Zone Technical Expertise draft bill commenced on Thursday in Honiara.

Representatives of the private sectors, Non Government Organisations and Isabel, Central, Makira and Guadalcanal Provinces have participated in the two-day workshop.

Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration organised the workshop, with the aim of getting the views from the stakeholders before taking the bill to Parliament in the upcoming sitting.

Special Economic Zone Taskforce led by Rex Antonio, Jobo Vincente and Ms Josefina Bueno spearheaded the discussions at Forum Fisheries Agency conference room.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, MCILI permanent secretary, George Kosui outlined the objectives of the consultation.

The objectives include:

a)     Discuss and explain the draft SEZ Bill to participants including its implications on and relation to other related legislations, and

b)     Discuss and listen to views and recommendations from participation for possible inclusion in the final Bill.

Mr Kosui said the SEZ refers to designated areas in countries that posses special economic regulation that are different from other areas in the same country.

Moreover, he said these regulations tend to contain measures that are conducive to foreign direct investment.

“Conducting business in a SEZ usually means that a company will receive tax incentives and the opportunity to pay lower tarrif or zero tariffs,” he said.

Mr Kosui said the SEZ concept is not new and is one that currently assists economies of Asian countries.

“During the discussions, our Technical experts will inform us of some of the experience in their country, Philippines, and other neighbouring countries like Singapore, Malaysia, or even the might re-dragon, China.

“They will also tell us about the benefits countries will have especially those relating to bringing in foreign investment and investors, new technology and skills (technology transfer), more employment opportunities, expand country’s export and economic base, improvement in infrastructure and other services in both the economic and social sectors, the essential elements required to assist improve and grow a second tier developing country like Solomon Islands,” he said.

“I think all of us would certainly want Solomon Islands to grow and improve in these areas.

“We have received letters from interested investors who expressed their interest to invest in SEZ in Solomon Islands and this is a good sign that this Bill will pave the way for investment promotion and growth in Solomon Islands in years to come,” he said.

- Solomon Star