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Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has appealed to the business community to work with the Government to find ways to expand the business base of the country.
He made the appeal following his return from signing the PACER Plus agreement in Samoa.
The Prime Minister said he has heard their concerns, some of which were raised by the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
“We hear that some of the businesses want to leave because of the income tax, now we hear they want to leave because of PACER Plus, but most countries have signed the agreement and Vanuatu’s probably the only country that does not have an income tax.
“I don’t know about the threat they are making, but Vanuatu wants to open up to more businesses to come into the country and provide opportunities to other businesses to come in.
“I believe that through this trade agreement, if there are facilities to assist businesses then we can look at assisting the existing ones to further expand their activities because the intention of the government is to assist businesses to operate and trade.
“This is so we want to find ways to assist these businesses and if we can access support through PACER Plus, maybe we can help them by way of assistance to them to further develop their operations and businesses.”
He warned against protectionist policies.
“If we protect them, then we will be in breach of the WTO rules and secondly we will be protecting the same businesses and the same possibilities they offer, which means the economy will not be expanded.
“I think government should continue with its policy of encouraging competition and opening up more opportunities for ni-Vanuatu people to do business in the country.
“I hear their concerns, but just to hold the trade show in New Caledonia, the Vanuatu Week, they ask the government to fund it.
“I am asking all in the business community to work together with the Government to find ways to expand the business base because the Government wants to expand its tax base so it can earn more revenue to meet its obligations in the social and the economic sectors.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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