Praise from the I.M.F and the simple plight of the poor

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well here’s the good news. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s government is in the good books of the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F) so that today, the orgsanisation established to “ensure the stability of the international monetary system” only has great things to say about Samoa.

According to a story titled “I.M.F positive about Samoa’s economy” published on page 3 of your newspaper yesterday, the Fund’s Executive Board has been left extremely impressed following their last monthly review of economic activities in Samoa.

 “Samoa’s economy continues to perform well,” the Fund’s report reads. 

“Economic activity picked up during 2015/16 driven by tourism arrivals, lower fuel prices, and new fish processing facilities, further boosted by two major sporting events and infrastructure projects.

“Although the pace will moderate in 2017/18 and in 2018/19 with the closure of a large manufacturing plant, growth is expected to remain buoyant, with G.D.P growing at around 2 percent annually, driven by construction activity, infrastructure development and improvements in the business environment.”

According to the I.M.F, the outlook in terms of the economy is “moderately positive.” But this is subject to Samoa’s vulnerability to a number of issues including  “natural disasters, elevated contingent liabilities, and withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships.”

Overall, however, the I.M.F’s Executive Directors commended the Samoan authorities for their “prudent policies which led to strong economic performance.” 

Now who wouldn’t be proud about such praises? 

It’s wonderful, isn’t it? Think of the high reputation the government has raised Samoa to both regionally and internationally over the years. Think of our recent graduation from the least developed country status to what we are today. 

Think of all the wonderful international meetings we’ve hosted in the past few years and how they have earned Samoa nothing but praise. 

They are achievements to be proud of. 

But there is a growing sense of uneasiness that is threatening to undo all this hard work. Samoa looks beautiful from afar but it really is struggling at the core. And it involves the government’s inability to address the very basic needs of the citizens of this country.

This is why such immodest praise is hard to accept sometimes.

There is of course the diplomatic speak and reality. 

On the Village Voice section of this newspaper every day, the reality is crystal clear. Take the Sunday Samoan for example, it featured a story titled “It’s not much but it’s home for father of six.” There was a picture of Joe Isaako of Malie and his children in what is their home.

 “We have a hard time in our home when bad weather strikes,” he said. “I have six kids and my wife and I try our best to make this house a comfortable home for them.

“I know I have a job but my job can’t afford to help me in renewing our home. Heavy rainfall is good for other people but not for us because of how our house is.”

On the very next page was another sad story. Titled “Mother dreams of running water,” it highlighted the plight of Lisi Toma of Vailele and Malie whose family do not access running water.

 “For me, taking care of my grandchildren is not a difficult task. It’s fetching of water on a daily basis that’s difficult,” she said.

Countless people like Joe Isaako and Lisi Toma have been featured in the Village Voice. But these are not the only issues.

Yesterday, a young man was featured in a story titled “Miliona challenges the govt. over jobs.” The 21-year-old from Solosolo is unemployed. 

Speaking to the Village Voice, he argued that it’s not his fault he’s unemployed. 

“I’m not trying to be smart or something but this is the truth,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of the government to provide any job compensation to these distraught families so that these families could survive.

“I don’t want to offend anyone or someone but I want to voice this issue. If only the government is able to visit us here and see what’s going on they would know what I’m talking about.

“This is just a humble request and a simple plight for the government to consider. I am very much in need of a job to help my family.”

We can go on and on but we will stop here. 

Now here we have the government being immodestly praised for economic development and yet we have citizens who are absolutely desperate for basic necessities like housing, electricity, water and jobs.

This doesnt make sense. What it comes down to is that the government should prioritise these concerns, instead of pumping more millions into their grand dream of turning beautiful Samoa into a mini foreign city with all these unnecessary high rises and dead pieces of infrastructure. 

What do you think?

© Samoa Observer 2016

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