The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell, says the government has yet to finalise the awarding of the tender for the Vaitele market to a Chinese businessman.
“I can’t confirm that (reports) at the moment,” Lautafi told the Samoa Observer during a phone interview.
“Like I said before, once we get the papers from the Ministry, then we will let you know.”
Early reports indicated that Coin Save owner, Tu’itu’ioaiga Teeking Weng, had won the bid to run the $5.7million market at Vaitele. Lautafi said he was aware of the reports.
“I’ve heard about it, but it’s not yet confirmed. We are still waiting for the papers to be presented to us. But don’t worry we will let you know as soon as we confirm it.”
When he was contacted for a comment, businessman Tu’itu’ioaiga declined to confirm or deny the reports.
“I can’t confirm now,” he said.
But a source told the Samoa Observer that the owner of Coin Save was already working on plans to turn the largely empty market into a profit-making venture.
The Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Land Corporation, Ulugia Petelo Kavesi, was also contacted several times for a comment but we were told he was in a meeting.
He did not reply to questions sent to him.
Last month, Minister Lautafi, confirmed that the market had been tendered with the government looking for someone to develop it.
It was a last desperate attempt from the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) to recover the money spent on the multimillion-tala project opened in 2011.
“It’s being advertised and opened to be used for businesses because the market is not functioning,”Lautafi told the Sunday Samoan in January.
“We have enough markets in villages and on the roadsides and people don’t need to come here."
“We all know (the market) is not strategically placed for our people who like to jump out of the car and get back in without having to walk distance.”
According to Lautafi, some businesses had already expressed interest. The winner of the tender was to be announced this month.
“I’m sure the businesses (those who tendered) will come up with much better use of space and return for government leasing land.”
Lautafi added that he is also looking at a solution for the empty market at Salelologa, Savai’i.