Policy Review: Tonga Foreign Investment Policy (FIP)
My own contribution, by Lusia Latu
22 September 2014
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Foreign Investment Policy Review consultation meeting on Thursday 18 September. I noted that not many people were interested to attend on the day and I am not sure why. The meeting was facilitated by the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour (MCTL) with a presentation by an ADB Consultant, Mr Mike Mullins. The meeting was very good and informative looking at contributing and adopting some fresh ideas and strategies to help the concerned Ministries and Policymakers with their review and improvement process of the current Foreign Investment Policy.
The policy review is part of the MCTL's continuous effort of the reform to establish a better working partnership with the Public Private Sectors and interested foreign investors and investments while determining to shape this policy so it could better support our local economy and foreign investors and investments interests. I take my hat out to the MCTL for their proactive approach and for welcoming the much needed changes in these areas.
You may have all read the current policy document that was published in the last weeks - so you can have a good idea of its content now - therefore I won’t go into details about it on here. I will leave the finer details for when the revised policy comes out.
On the positive side, I think that by taking the initiative to review this policy is a positive move for both Public and Private Sector Growth and Development. This will not only contribute to boosting our local economic growth and development, pushing for a local competitive marketplace which will help lift the standard of the game, but also, pouring in earned benefits and revenues to our local economy through new or existing business opportunities, joint ventures, employment and upskilling opportunities, and income opportunities which we all hope that this will lead to more doors for local economic sustainable growth.
So long as the law governing the FIP and the applicable rules and regulations are laid out upfront, and are well and clearly defined to ensure that the same understanding and much needed good communications are flowing all the way – then the expected experience and outcomes should be pleasant for everyone involved.
This brings me back to re-emphasizing on the importance of good communication skills in doing business at all level.
I believe that through the careful review of the policy it will bring that much needed mutual and improved appreciation and understanding between the Private Public Sectors needs and the Government expectations. I hope this review will enable the Policymakers and Government to easily identify and establish a well-balanced of views and contributions from the public to resolving the current issues through considering some of these suggestions to:
I also believe that through the careful review of the policy it will also assist the relevant Ministries and Policymakers to develop a policy which could better serve all interested parties, while taking some control measures to protecting the best interests of Tonga and its people. I think this is an important aspect of drafting policies for the purpose of encouraging sustainable growth and development of both the Public and Private Sectors.
One thing that came to mind are the spouse/ wife/husband of the foreign workers to Tonga (expats community). Could we also consider their investment interests in Tonga? For most of them having operated their companies in their respective countries prior to arriving in Tonga - could their interests also be considered for a foreign investment by nature if they wish to establish themselves in Tonga for the duration of their spouse/wife/husband Employment assignments?
Finally, I am hoping that through the careful review of the policy it will solely serve its purpose by making the policy work for us and the foreign investors and investments, rather than us striving to serve a policy document on its own.
For those of you who are or will have some interests in this area of your business - whether it will be in foreign business investment or employment interests - the review of this policy is the good news moving forward. So stay tune for the new development and progress of this work.