Cabinet is not asleep at the wheel.
In fact, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has reassured that if “Samoa’s boat sinks,” as the “Captain of the boat,” he will be the first one to know.
The Prime Minister made the point in Parliament last week when he was responding to a warning from the former Speaker of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt. La’auli had warned the Government to be careful with their decision making because the future of the country is at stake.
“We have to work together,” he said. “We are here to offer advice to you for a smooth journey. If something bad happens to our boat, we will all sink and die.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa interjected. He reassured Parliament that as the “captain,” he is keeping an eye out on what’s best for Samoa.
“There are people who say things and then there are people who take note of what’s being said,” Tuilaepa said.
“I get your concern but don’t you worry, when our boat leaks, the first people to know is the captain and his mechanics. We will know. So thank you for the advice but Cabinet is not asleep at the wheel.”
La’auli had also issued a challenge for the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti.
“My advice is don’t be lazy to look for new revenue opportunities, new money,” the Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3 said.
“There is plenty of fish in the sea, plenty of birds in the sky so you can find some new revenue streams. We need the new money, new investment and new people."
La’auli said cryptocurrency appears to be one of those new revenue streams.
“Please look into this in case the Ministry’s vision is blurred while there are positive things there for Samoa,” he said.
“It’s a complex matter but I will leave it there with you.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa rejected the call.
“Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has been there and considered it,” he said. “We are nowhere near (ready) for that. Nowhere near. Even countries with much bigger economies, they are avoiding it."
“But some of our people have become involved. So we have issued an advisory for people to be absolutely careful about this.”
Earlier this year, the Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa, Maiava Atalina Ainu’u-Enari, confirmed an investigation into one of the crytocurrency schemes that had been operating in Samoa known as One Coin. The scheme uses middlemen to collect people’s money in the hope of gigantic returns.
“There are people and organizations currently under our microscope, but this is part of ongoing enquiries and our investigation,” she said.
According to Maiava, how it works is that people for example are asked to invest $1,000 and then in four months, their cash returns ten times more.
“This is a snare that is used to catch people’s money,” she said. “We are currently working proactively to ensure that our people are well informed and well prepared to counter these types of investment schemes."
“Besides the media campaign that we are doing in prompting people to be extra careful when investing their hard earned money in businesses that are difficult to understand or a very complex, we are also ensuring that our commercial banks and money transfer operators assist us in preventing people sending money overseas without proper supporting documentations."
Maiava added: “The technology of cryptocurrency has a lot of teething problems at the moment so what we have done so far is to capture these cryptocurrency and their promoters under our current Money Laundering Amendment Bill 2018.”
She also called on members of the public to be extra careful.
“Before you invest your hard earned money, please make sure that you understand what business that you are investing in. Is it legitimate, is it real, are the profits or returns realistic?"
“Also, these cryptocurrencies are not regulated. There are no laws to govern it as opposed to the physical money that we are currently using."
Back in Parliament, La’auli reminded the Government about the importance of Samoa’s Constitution.
“The foundation of Samoa has been set from the beginning, it cannot be changed. There is no one who can change it, not even people with a lot of knowledge and money, they can’t come and say your time is up, that’s enough."
“Samoa has already been demarcated. If you grew up as royalty, you are royalty. If your calling is an orator of Samoa, then that’s you. That is our foundation.”
He added that Parliament, villages and churches are the three legs upon which Samoa stands.
“One cannot do without the other.”
Parliament has been adjourned until October.