Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sai’lele Malielegaoi has lambasted the Samoa Observer for continuing to question the Samoa National Provident Fund’s (S.N.P.F.) decision to loan millions to foreign-owned companies operating in Samoa.
He was particularly unhappy about a story titled “Document confirms $5.84m loan to Chinese businessman” which revealed details about the Fund granting a loan to a Chinese businessman with a matai title from Falevao.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Tuilaepa accused the author of the article of being “negative” and “narrow-minded”
“He or she has a very tiny brain,” Tuilaepa said. “They should go and enlarge their brain. If not, you should hire people with big brains to write your articles.”
Tuilaepa said the story is wrong.
“Not all people are fools,” he said. “Most people can easily read your paper and see that the standard of your paper is very low.”
Tuilaepa defended the Fund’s decision to grant the loans.
“The question is, if these people are foreign investors, are they investing money into Samoa or not? They are investing money into Samoa,” Tuilaepa said.
“That was what you (Samoa Observer) should’ve looked at. You should also look at the number of loans made by locals; they are not small loans."
“The thing is, the S.N.P.F cannot stop their work. And we have nothing to worry about how they carry out their work.”
He then wielded the axe towards the Samoa Observer.
“The thing that was wrong about your article was that it made it sound as if these money are used out of Samoa,” he said.
“These (businesses) are investing these money into Samoa and they are providing job opportunities for our people. If they just sit around with this money and not do anything about it, then what’s going to happen to us?"
The Prime Minister echoed the response from the Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, Faumuina Esther Poutoa, who had also accused the Samoa Observer of being negative with its coverage.
Last week, a document obtained by the Samoa Observer showed that a Chinese businessman has received more than $5million tala in loans from the S.N.P.F.
According to the document, it shows that as of 06 February 2017, Tu’itu’ioaiga Teeking Weng’s company, Super Wing Samoa Limited, owes the Fund $5.841, 977.99.
The account at the S.N.P.F. is under the name “Weije Weng.” The Samoa Observer understands the loan has been approved with an interest rate of 7.2percent.
Tu’itu’ioaiga’s loan with the S.N.P.F has come under the microscope after a member of the business community questioned the Fund, saying it should invest more in local businesses.
“They come as investors,” she said. “What kind of investor comes to Samoa to rely on Samoa’s money? They are not investors, they are using us."
“I think the government should be concerned about this. If investors come, they have to bring their own money, not come and then borrow from Samoa. This is not right.”
The businesswoman questioned the Fund’s decision to lend to Tu’itu’ioaiga as well as Papua New Guinea’s Lamana Group responsible for the Taumeasina Island Resort.