Dear members and colleagues,
As I near the end my second year as President of the VCCI I notice that our work at the Chamber has never been more relevant and important for our business community.
Decisions that are made in how we as a country manage COVID-19 have a direct effect on employment numbers, and the survival of key industry sectors. VCCI’s role in advocating on the behalf of all businesses is of key importance and we wish to strengthen our relationship with Government in these challenging times.
As clearly outlined by the press release published in the Daily Post on Saturday, written by from the Ministry of Heath’s Acting DG Dr Tapo we believe there is a direct connection between Vanuatu’s readiness to manage COVID-19 in terms of health facilities, staffing and the national vaccination program, and the easing of restrictions of movement of people in and out of our country.
VCCI stands behind the Government making the health sector a priority. VCCI has been directly supporting its vaccination program, providing Shefa Health with all its transportation needs daily of its mobile vaccination teams in Port Vila and across Efate. We have been producing videos to promote getting vaccinated and using social media, radio and print media to support vaccination efforts. We have trained over 3000 businesses in safe business operations, while working with the NDMO and Department of Public Health on developing a set of detailed Standard Operating Procedures for businesses to use during Alert levels 0-3. These, and many other resources can be found on the new COVID READY website: https://vcci.vu/covid-ready
The recently released Economic Update Report (available for download here) has clearly demonstrated that businesses are suffering greatly, cost of doing business is ever increasing, and employment levels are dropping even further. Everyday people’s lives are being negatively affected.
It is clear to me, and many business owners, that a major extension of the current State of Emergency will affect the incomes of many families. The recovery of our economy is directly linked to readiness to manage COVID when it does come to our shores.
One of the most important things we can do is to share information. The Government must communicate clearly as businesses need to plan, and many have begun to prepare by hiring of staff and performing costly improvements in response to the Prime Ministers announcement that the borders are to be opened end of March 2022. It is now unclear to VCCI if this is still the target date.
VCCI requests that the Government focus on sharing with the general public two things, and we are ready to assist with this:
- To clarify its plans to address our health readiness, including surge staffing and preparedness of current health facilities. More importantly how it will support the ramping up of its national vaccine program and clarifying weekly targets. We ask that the Government publish what budget has been made available to support these plans, and to demonstrate leadership through communicating well and regularly on progress of this vital work.
- We also encourage the Government to clarify its plans for border restriction easements, with target dates set and communicated to the public.
I’m proud of the Chambers successes over the last year, particularly in providing more opportunities for meaningful engagement with our members who are local business owners, introducing innovative business support programs, and providing business development and individual skills strengthening opportunities. In the year ahead, we will continue these initiatives, as well as adding programming designed to prepare businesses for the different stages of living with COVI-19, focusing on preparedness, response and recovery.
Thank you all for your continued participation and engagement with the Chamber, and donors for your incredible support and advice. Finally, I’d like to give a special acknowledgment of appreciation to our staff for their tireless work on behalf of the VCCI, and their dedication in helping the private sector and keeping employers, employees and the general public safe.
Wishing you a good and successful 2022, and looking forward to seeing you soon.