Opposition slams Ministerial no-show at business forum

The Vanuatu Opposition has criticised what it says was the Government’s non-attendance at a national business forum held at the start of this month in Port Vila.

Opposition leader, Ralph Regenvanu, says Government Ministers should have attended the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry business forum which ran from 30 September to 1 October because “it is a time when the Government should be talking about ways to help business houses” and that it was “sad to see that Ministers could not attend the forum”.

Mr Regenvanu says the participation of Ministers at the forum would have “given hope to the private sector which is the driving force of the country’s economy”.

“If you are a business man, you will see that the Government is not really interested in the business sector because no Minister has attended the forum. And businesses who are trying to keep the economy going, will fall down because the Government does not bother to support them,” he said.

“The Government did not speak at the two-day forum and so what the Government has put in place at this time to support businesses was not reflected at the forum.”

Director generals and directors of government departments did attend the forum, but one local entrepreneur, Lopez Adams of the Coffee Tree company, said he believed Government Ministers should have attended the forum

He says because of the difficult impacts of COVID-19, it is time for people to change their ways.

“We are in a difficult time, everyone must come down to the same level and talk over important matters,” he said.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Management, Johnny Koanapo, says the Government had been talking to the private sector in July.

Minister Koanapo assured the Opposition and business leaders that the Government will consider the outcomes of the forum and take action to implement its recommendations.

He says the Opposition, the people and the Government should work together because Vanuatu is in crisis.

The Vice Chairman for the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Roy Matariki, says the forum was the first time Vanuatu’s private sector and the public had got together to discuss the best ways to sustain businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

He says the private sector believes in working in partnership with others to help businesses to grow.

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