Chamber wants better say on legislation, more support for locally-owned business, House told

The Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants to sign an MOU with the government to improve consultation between the business community and relevant ministries.

The Chamber wants to sign a memorandum to formalise discussion on pressing issues affecting business, like the Foreign Investment Bill which is before Parliament.

The Chamber said the Bill would have a significant impact on Tongan-owned businesses and wants the government to support local industries that could replace imports.

It also said government neglect had led to the death of the traditional village store.

The Chamber’s comments on the need for consultation were read out in Parliament as part of a report on the Bill 2019.

The Chamber said it believed an effective and regular process of consultation would go a long way in smoothing the growth of business in Tonga.

They also suggested that consultation on business related legislation must be given sufficient time to consider and prepare written submission on pending legislation.

During the debate on the issue last week, Lord Fusitu’a asked that a letter from some businesses which claimed there had been no public consultation on the bill, be read out.

Minister of Labour, Hon. Tu’i Uata denied the allegation and this week told the House the Chamber had  apologised for claiming there was no public consultation.

Drawback

Despite its criticism, the Chamber said the bill was “on the whole…good.”

“Its main drawback is that there is no mechanism in the Bill to ensure that there is ongoing and regular consultation with the Tonga business community on whom the effects of foreign investment will be most felt,” the Chamber said.

The Chamber said it understood that passing the bill would lead to the release of $35 Million in budget support by aid donors.

It said the government should use part of the funds support import substituting business that have operated successfully, such as those in the manufacturing g sector

The Chamber said that when the bill became law it would a significant affect on Tongan-owned businesses.

“The disappearance or death of the ‘village falekoloa’ is a direct result of the government – over the past 20 years – not taking appropriate measures to assist and to protect the Tongan falekoloa,” it said.

The main points

  • The Tonga Chamber of Commerce wants to sign an MOU with the government to improve consultation between the business community and relevant ministries.
  • The Chamber wants a to sign a memorandum to formalise discussion on pressing issues affecting business.

For more information

Report on the foreign investment bill 2016 read in Parliament

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