Role of private sector

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Dear Editor,

 

I am not pushing the blame onto the private sector. I am simply saying the private sector needs to get larger so that it can lead economic development. In an ideal world, the private sector is the engine of the economy. However, this can only happen in Samoa if we have much greater foreign investment.

I recognise that this is where the government’s role lies. Creating an enabling environment for investment to flood into the country. You say that there isn’t enough investment because of the corrupt government. I don’t think there is any real evidence of that. It is simply you projecting your clearly bitter anti-HRPP opinion.

Samoa is a small economy and transport costs a huge. I think a large part of the lack of foreign investment is because 80% of Samoa is pretty much out of bounds to investment. Yes, investment is extremely difficult on customary land which is subject to all sorts of constitutional and legal restrictions . This is not an environment that is friendly to any sort of investment. It is a huge strait jacket on economic growth.

However, that is what we have to work with and we need to get on and work around the customary land laws as best we can. That is why the government has tried to make it easier for landowners to lease. Yet even this small token effort has been met with staunch opposition from various people like Fiu Mataese and his lobby group.

The good news is in my opinion, the tide is slowly changing. Samoa has already graduated from least developed country status to middle income developing country status. The most promising growth industry is the tourism industry, which currently makes up 20% of the economy.

This will increase in the next decade to at least 30% on the back of major infrastructural investment in the industry (attraction of new airlines flying into Samoa; new Samoan international airline starting up; expansion of Faleolo airport; increased up skilling of accommodation providers; more big name hotel chains entering the market etc). 20 years ago, the tourism industry was nowhere near where it is now.

 

PS Jeffrey 



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