TCCI Vice President Ms Aloma Johannson making a point during the dialogue.

March 7 2016- The Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industries (TCCI) held its first Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on Friday 26 February. The highlight of the PPD was the attendance of the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni, a supporter of the PPD initiative.

The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged TCCI’s efforts with the report and affirmed the government’s support for the partnership approach, “I look forward to continue having this kind of dialogue that will progress private sector development and the public-private partnership.”

Also in attendance were 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 present.

Representing the Private Sector was the President of TCCI, Mr John Paul Chapman, Vice President and Chairperson, Ms Aloma Johannson and members of the TCCI Council. Also present were the President of the Retail & Wholesale Association, Mr John Sullivan, members of the business community and the Director of the Civil Society representing the informal sector, Ms Siale ‘Ilolahia.

The Dialogue focussed on the presentation of the findings of a TCCI commissioned report on the status of Tonga’s growth sectors which also includes a proposed Private Sector Engagement Strategy on current business reforms.

The study by Mr Kaveinga Tu’itahi of Tavana Consultancy was supported by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP). TCCI  is one of PLP’s partners in Tonga. PLP is a regional initiative of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that recognizes the pivotal role of leadership in Development. PLP’s support for TCCI  falls under one of PLP’s key result area where PLP supports collective action by Pacific island leaders in policy and institutional changes and reforms that promote stability, effective governance and economic growth at regional and national levels.

The report focussed on the six Sector Growth Committees (Tourism, Retail & Wholesale, Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture & Fisheries) established by the previous Government.

TCCI’s key recommendation from the study was to formalise the PPD mechanism in a partnership between the Government with the Private Sector.

Whilst issues were raised from the floor on business licensing, tax clearance, improved communication, coordination and consultation, governance and regulatory matters, emphasis was made by both parties on formalising the PPD mechanism and a trust based partnership between private sector and government as a key to moving forward.

Reference was made by the TCCI CEO, Mr Viliami Takau, to the Tonga Strategic Development Framework II and the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting last October in the Cook Islands on the policy and enabling environment specific to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises for Government to actively encourage open dialogue on all private sector policies in country.

TCCI will be meeting with key Ministries in the coming week to progress these discussions.  The TCCI will be hosting the PPD on a quarterly basis.

For more information contact TCCI Chief Executive Officer- Viliami Takau, TCCI on telephone +676 25168.