The village Council of Iva, Savai’i, has joined the list of villages to ban Chinese-owned shops from operating in their village.
This was confirmed by Iva’s Village mayor, Seve Luki, during an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday.
In doing so, Iva joined Salelologa who had banned Chinese shops from operating in their village and setting up their businesses on customary land.
Seve denied that the decision was discriminatory. Rather, he said they want to protect future business prospects for the villagers.
“Our village had a meeting and we all agreed that no Chinese shops are allowed to be set up in Iva,” Seve said.
“Our concern is that if we allow foreign businesses to be established now, our future generations will not be able to have access to the land when they grow up because these foreigners would have taken them all.
“That’s why we’ve decided that this is the best time to put a stop to the setting up of foreign businesses before it becomes a problem in the future and everyone would be affected.
“Most importantly, we want to push our own local businesses.”
Seve explained that the decision followed an incident where the village found out that a Chinese-owned shop was being set up.
“I don’t want to go in details of what happened because the family who leased their shop to the Chinese business operator has already been penalized by the village.
“And now the village council agreed to operate the Chinese shop but with certain conditions.
That includes the shop being the first and the last Chinese shop to operate in the village.
“Another condition is that only people from our village are to work for his business and he’s doing ‘monotaga’ like others (chiefs and orators) as well and he has to follow the village curfews of when to close and open his shop from Monday to Sunday.
“As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s not about any other reasons but we care for our people and local businesses in our own village.”
The decision to put a stop to Chinese-owned shops in villages is not new. Salelologa and Moata’a in Upolu have recently made headlines for their stance on the issue.
Recently, Salega East’s Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai, said he supports village councils’ decision to ban foreign-owned businesses from setting up in their areas.
“If we have these wholesalers and supermarkets in the town area, because they’re already all over the place, they’ll provide fair competition for our locals to choose which of them has the cheapest goods,” Olo said.
“There’s nothing wrong with the decision from some of the villages to ban these foreign-owned businesses.
“That’s for the villages to decide; I mean it’s up to them.”
Olo denied the move was racist.
“No it is not racist and people who are leasing land to foreign-owned businesses should look at the other side.
“Some of our people are very greedy when they offer money to lease out their lands to the foreign-owned business in villages.
“But they forget the effect it has on 99 percent of the many Samoan people and their businesses.
“I strongly agree with the decisions by some of the villages in the country to ban foreign-owned businesses.”