Private sector calls for improvement in communication by government

Suggestions have been for a focal point of communications in government to ensure regular information is made public.

This was the consensus by representatives from the private sector at a COVID-19 Communications workshop held on Friday July 17th.

All agreed that there should be a position of communication person in Government to ensure that regular information from government is made public especially with the dissemination of information on COVID – 19.

The workshop was supported by the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme hosted by the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue which focused on sharing of information around COVID -19 by key stakeholders and the media in efforts to keep the public informed.

Chamber of Commerce Board Director Coral Pasisi shared sentiments of participants that there is much improvement needed in the coordination of information by authorities and to utilize online platforms such as a dedicated website on COVID- 19.

Fiafia Rex, also a Chamber board member highlighted her experiences as one of the returning passengers in March that there was no de-briefing for their feedback as passengers on the process of quarantine and requirements.

On the onset of COVID restrictions in Niue, there was also confusion around alert levels issued by the authorities as to what each level entailed for the people.

Participants stated that there was more reliance on news from New Zealand on the coronavirus as their government held more regular press conferences and updates for the people.

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Bank Manager of Niue Development Bank and Kiwibank Wayne McCaughan commended BCN for hosting the workshop – a first of its kind they have been invited to discuss the impacts of COVID – 19 and share ideas as stakeholders.

Chamber of Commerce Acting Business Development Manager presented the wage subsidy, during this unusual time of the pandemic the private sector is depending on governtments wage subsidy to ensure they survive this economic downturn awaiting the decisions of the government as to when the borders will reopen.

According to the Chamber, 60 percent of the local businesses are tourism based.

30 percent of businesses have been in business for more than 10 years which means majority of Niue businesses are still in its infancy.

In addition to the wage subsidy which includes migrant workers living and working in Niue, some businesses have had to be innovative and creative in diversifying their businesses during these times. Local entrepreneur and board member of the Chamber of Commerce Glen Jackson had also presented on his new e-commerce business partnering with Canadian multinational e-commerce company Shopify to establish an online platform for Niuean products which he is also extending to other Pacific Island businesses to sell on his platform called niu market.

Meanwhile on day one of the workshop, Director-General of Health and Social Services Gaylene Tasmania said one of the biggest lessons learned by the Health department was their weakness in communication which resulted in recently establishing a risk communication and community engagement task force.

Premier Dalton Tagelagi who was Chief guest on day one told the participants that all substantial matters approved by Cabinet will be delivered through a press conference. Government is also working on utilizing online platforms for government departments.

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