Govt. finances in good hands; Finance Minister

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Finance Minister Sili Epa Tuioti, (middle) with the nine McDonald's Samoa Miss Samoa Pageant contestant at the end of a courtesy call to the Cabinet Minister Friday morning.

Finance Minister Sili Epa Tuioti, (middle) with the nine McDonald's Samoa Miss Samoa Pageant contestant at the end of a courtesy call to the Cabinet Minister Friday morning.

Samoa is in good hands financially, the Finance Minister Sili Epa Tuioti has reassured the nine contestants for the 2018 McDonald’s Samoa Miss Samoa Pageant to be staged in Salelologa Savai’i on Saturday.

“The future looks bright and very positive,” added the Minister despite critics concerns piercing Samoa’s mounting foreign debt.

Although he did not directly address the foreign debt, the Minister with decades of experience as the Former Financial Secretary to Government noted that there is no need to worry when it comes to “responsible spending by government.”

“We (government) are borrowing from various sources at the most concessional terms at 1% or half a percent interest with grace period of minimum of up to 10 years,” he said.

“We are not stressing out our finances because we don’t want to go into much debts and we don’t want to leave our future generations with excessive debt which will constraint them from continuing to develop our economy.” 

“We have been very responsible as a government in terms of sustaining repayment of our debt.”

“There’s always a perception out there that we over borrowed but from my own experience and as the Minister of Finance we don’t have to worry about anything.”

“We are appropriating our resources during each financial year to ensure that we pay our debts.” 

“The priority is always on our principal repayments and interest for every borrowing that we do so we do that first before we appropriate the rest of the resources for our people.”

“I can say that and I can assure you and the country that really there is no need to worry mostly because we are borrowing from multilateral partners especially the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.”

“It’s something we’re keeping an eye on to make sure that if we borrow again we want to make sure it’s sustainable and we can afford it.”

Overall, the Finance Minister says that climate change is another priority area which government is keeping a vigil and close eye to ensure Samoa’s resilience.

And paramount to government is to improve economic and social welfare of the people with education and health as the top two government priorities.

“We cannot develop the economy and move forward unless we have an educated and healthy population,” he reiterated.

But there is also some excitement with projects which are slowly going on stream, he noted. 

“Certainly the Tui Samoa Sub Marine Cable on how that will impact the country’s connectivity and how the cable will deliver on health and education services creating a good environment for businesses as you have heard there’s a lot of investing in the township of Salelologa,” he added.

“Obviously there’s a commitment by government to move all the government agencies and operations into the township its mainly to try and facilitate quick responses to our people so that they don’t have to come to Apia we want them to come to Salelologa and that they will have all the services needs from government.”

Government is also looking at relocating all government sectors into the township but will also look at incentivizing private sectors to invest businesses in Salelologa to create jobs and employment opportunities for the people of Savai’i.

Government is also looking at the improvement of the shipping services and port in Savaii targeting export directly from the Big Island and not have to tranship through Apia. 

And with the first ever Miss Samoa Pageant to be staged on the Big Island, it will give leverage to government’s mission for the Savaii in particular the tourism and business sectors in terms of profiling Savaii as a tourist destination and available for business investments.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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