Get Involved! Download our Salaries and Wages Survey HERE
Council, elected every year by TCCI-members, is formed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Assistant Secretary, an Assistant Treasurer, four Councillors, four Affiliate Members, Legal Advisor and an Auditor.
The Council is currently (20th April 2018) Comprised Of:
9) Councillor................................Maliana Tohi
10) Councillor................................John Paul Chapman
11) Affiliate Member.....................Tonga Chinese Business Council
12) Affiliate Member.....................
13) Affiliate Member.....................
14) Affiliate Member.....................
Is Your Business Fit for the Future?
Foreign Investment Bill 2019
Comments on Foreign Investment Bill 2019 – February 2019 Firstly, on behalf of the Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industry (TCCI) and businesses in Tonga I would like to acknowledge the very kind assistance of the House in allowing TCCI and businesses the opportunity to be consulted and make input into the Foreign Investment Bill 2019. We deeply appreciate this opportunity.
The Chambers usual consultation practice is to forward the Bill to members and businesses for comment. We then collate those comments and forward to the appropriate Ministry as the TCCI and private sector submission.
Given the urgent need for the House to pass the Bill, Chamber sent out the Foreign Investment Bill (FIB) 2019 on Wednesday 20 February 2019 for comment with a deadline of Friday 22 February 2019, 10am for receipt of comments.
We would like to take this opportunity to make some comments on the consultation process between government Ministries in general with Chamber and the private sector. Generally, we think the current process is good, but like all processes, improvements should always be sought and made. Chamber proposes the following to improve the current consultation process for consideration.
Comments on the Consultation Process and How It Could be Improved (1) Chamber has sought to sign a formal PPD (or Public Private Dialogue) MoU with the MCCTIL to formalise regular consultation with the government on pressing issues affecting businesses in Tonga. We think an effective and regular PPD process will go a long way in smoothing the key processes holding back the growth of business in Tonga. TCCI would welcome the opportunity to restart discussions with MCCTIL regarding the signing of a formal PPD MoU. In addition, it may be worthwhile to consider if the PPD process should be widened and/or adapted to also include the House in the PPD process.
(2) Consultation on business related legislations must be timely.(a) (a) Businesses must be given sufficient time to consider & prepare written submissions on pending legislation. Frequently in Tonga the person that should write, comment is also the manager of the business and has limited time to prepare submission as well as running the business. (b) In addition, consultations must be recent. For example, consultation conducted in say 2016 for legislation to be passed in 2019, may well be dated and need to undergo a fresh round of consultation in 2019 as business conditions & environment may have changed markedly from when the consultation took place.
1. Part 3 –Administration of Foreign Investment Regime in TongaPropose that a Committee consisting of Government and Private Sector members including the Chamber of Commerce should make the final decision in what constitutes a Reserved and Restricted List and in granting the Foreign Business Certificate and not the CEO and Minister. The current proposed law may lead to favouritism if only two (2) people make all the decisions where a lot of money will be involved
2. Section 19 Again, regarding this Committee, it is proposed this same Committee should handle Appeals from dissatisfied customers/clients and not the Minister alone. The process will be improved if the Committee is allowed to evaluate the worthiness of the appeals.
3. Clause 15 (1) of the Bill states:“The Registrar shall determine an application for the issue of a certificate within 5 working days after receiving the application.” Surely 5 days is far too short to make a proper assessment and proper checking of most applications…Suggest that at the very minimum a month would be a more reasonable time frame
4. Clause 6: Meaning of an overseas person In this Act, “overseas person” means (b) a body corporate that is incorporated outside Tonga Does this mean that a Tongan subject (irrespective of where he lives)? who has a company incorporated overseas will have to go through the process of applying for a certificate? Clarification is needed on this please
5. In Part 3, perhaps make reference to the following: Reserved list mainly to assist with local and small business enterprises and in some areas where large scale investment are not necessary to start a business investment. However, there is scope for foreign investment, especially in areas beyond local financial capabilities, advanced technology and in areas of major tourism resorts etc. where investment capital of more than ToP5 million would be required as minimum investment level. Foreign investment in these areas would significantly boost Tonga's economy, create new markets and new local jobs and as a catalyst for other related small local businesses to thrive.
General Comments: 6. TCCI understand that the passing of the FIB will lead to the release of $35 Million in Budget Support by aid donors. Chamber proposes that government consider using part of these funds to support import substituting business that have operated successfully in Tonga for more than 2 years eg in the manufacturing sector
7. A fair and credible system for vetting and approving foreign investment applications is needed.
8. On the whole the Bill is 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, most/many of whom are represented by the Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and on whom the effects of foreign investment will be most felt.
9. This Bill when it becomes law will have significant impact on the Tongan-owned businesses. The disappearance or death of the ‘village falekoloa’ is a direct result of the Govt – over the past 20 years – not taking appropriate measures to assist and to protect the Tongan falekoloa. Ko e kolo pe ko e ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘iai ha fale koloa muli (eg Kolonga) ko e kolo ia ‘oku kei mo’ui pe e ngaahi falekoloa ‘a e Tonga.
10. A "rethink" of our licencing system, immigration and employment laws and regulations is imperative.
11. To include in the Bill provision for the establishment of an oversight committee to oversee the administration of this Act and its regulations, membership of which will include the CEO/Registrar, as Chairman, plus a Representative of the Chamber and a Business person, and others as the Min sees fit. This will ensure constant/ongoing consultation and oversight…..NZ has the OIO – Overseas Investment Office – which oversees overseas investment in NZ – to encourage but at the same time protect those business and assets which NZ determine to reserve for New Zealanders.
12. This Committee will also consider and make recommendations on all applications for F/Inv certificates/approvals; also, be the Committee to consider/review and make recommendations to the Minister for any changes to the Reserve, Restricted and Prohibited Lists, and any other relevant issues to be included in the Regulations.
13. The consultation on Prohibited, Reserved and Restricted Lists is a must, and should be ongoing and regular. The only way that this can be done is by establishing a Standing Committee written in to the Bill, as suggested above.
14. My concern with the Foreign Investment Bill 2019 is the risk that current local businesses face when they have spent considerable time and money into developing not just their business, but the sector in which they operate as well. Some existing businesses have over the years build up their business or sector from scratch ie identified a new export market oversea and build that market over the years, taking a lot of risks along the way. Then government or aid donors, fund competing operations to operate in the same market that was first developed by existing local business who took the early risks. Also, these first local investors may have build-up supporting local industries involved in their sector value chain. Such local business that took the early risks & survived should not compete against govt or donor funded/subsidised companies - this is not fair competition. Let other local business compete with them, but without govt or donor assistance just like the first businesses did - that is fair competition.
15. In addition, if foreign investment in the form of aid is used to start-up businesses in Tonga, once the donor leaves or funds provided is finished Tonga may not have the capacity to sustain the business and it becomes a short-term handout rather than a long-term business investment, not to mention undermining effect they would have on our local businesses. Government and donors should ensure they do their homework and work only with Tongan partners who are capable & experienced to continue on with the business once the subsidies or donor funds is finished.
16. Establishment of an advisory investment board, consisting of a good mix of representatives (public and private sector) from the key sectors such as energy, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Association, energy, environment and planning. This Board to give advice from time to time in decision on major foreign investment and to help the Minister in making key decisions.
17. I thought somewhere in the beginning and Introduction, the overall position of Tonga in terms of foreign investment be summarised and viewed. Perhaps something like this: Tonga is committed to creating an attractive investment climate for both local and foreign investors. Tonga is politically stable with a growing economy, offer skilled, well-trained but relatively low labour costs, a favourable exchange rate, conducive environment for investment with political and economic stability. Tonga provides a highly favourable investment environment.
Disclaimer The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industry Inc. (TCCI) and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website. Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of TCCI. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them. Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly. However, TCCI takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.