The private sector is the engine of growth for most countries in the world, and Tonga is no exception. Government has strongly articulated the prominence of private sector development as the vehicle for economic growth in its planning strategies including the Tonga Strategic Development Framework 2009 and the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism & Labour (“the Ministry”) plays a central role in the strive towards realization of this objective through its key mandate of progressing a dynamic, sustainable and competitive business environment.
Growing the private sector requires cross-cutting initiatives and the Ministry has endeavored to premise its Corporate Plan on activities designed to mitigate barriers to business development, promotion of local and foreign investment, promotion and marketing of Tongan exports, provision of appropriate business development services, and enhancing private-public sector partnership.
Concurrently, Government’s role in correcting inefficiencies in the market has assigned the Ministry with the mandate of regulating business activities so as to safeguard the interests and welfare of consumers and the general public. Whilst identified contradictions exist between consumer welfare and business growth, the Ministry has afforded priority to consumer protection and regulatory enforcement of businesses particularly in matters relevant to price control, weights and measures, consumer goods and consumer education.
Delivery on these key mandates however is restrained by Government’s current tight fiscal situation which therefore requires efficient management of scarce resources so as to do more with less. With this objective, the Ministry has undertaken an internal restructure, under the assistance of the World Bank, with the objective of driving efficiency. Consequently the Ministry has established dedicated capacities to policy formulation and advice, centralized business registration, regulatory enforcement, and trade and investment promotion which are expected to enhance facilitation of trade and business development, improve regulatory enforcement and compliance, advanced labour market service development, efficient registration of businesses, companies, Intellectual Properties and Credit Unions, increased stakeholder engagements, sound policy making and advice, cost-effective organisational and financial management, and excellent customer service.
With improved efficiency, I believe that the Ministry is in a better position to effectively influence Government policies so as to advance a business environment that is conducive to growth yet at the same time mitigate inefficiencies which may threaten the livelihood and wellbeing of the general public.
Hon. Dr Viliami Uasike Latu
Minister for Commerce, Tourism & Labour
5 February 2013