Call to protect indigenous businesses in Solomon Islands


<p style="text-align: justify;">Non government organizations and civil society groups in the Solomon Islands have urged the national Government to curb immigrants from starting businesses reserved for indigenous people.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Like several Pacific Island Governments, the Solomon Islands Government also has a list of restricted industries that is prohibited for immigrants and non-citizens. Among these are public transport, takeaway food shops and tourism. These are reserved for the indigenous population.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Solomon Islands Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration says it is investigating allegations that foreigners are finding ways of running businesses reserved for indigenous people. This move comes amidst allegations from NGOs that foreigners, notably Chinese immigrants, have used money to coerce indigenous people to register and run taxi and bus services on their behalf.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Heinz Vaekesa, says the ministry is investigating the issue. “We do have some lead information that foreigners are actually coming under local business people or individuals that run them. So they run under those business people,” the minister told media.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But Mr Vaekesa also said his office, which issues company licences, has so far not found any foreigners who have registered to run businesses reserved for indigenous people.</p>
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