The government has offered more than 200 business owners affected by the Savalalo Market fire last week $1,000 per stall as part of its assistance.
The money, which has been made available immediately, is one of the strands of the government’s help revealed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, during a meeting with the business owners.
“It’s not much but it’s something to help them immediately to get back on their feet,” Lautafi said, whose portfolio includes the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C).
S.L.C is responsible for the Savalalo Market.
At the meeting, Lautafi was accompanied by the General Manager of S.L.C. Peseta Afoa Arasi, Chairman of the Board, Lavea Tupuola Malifa, and the C.E.O of the Accident and Compensation Corporation, Muliagatele Makerita Matafeo. In addressing the business owners, Lautafi reminded them that the government feels their pain.
He assured them that the government is working around the clock to ensure they will be back in business as soon as possible.
Part of the government’s assistance includes the setting up of temporary tents at Savalalo and other possible areas to allow them to resume their business.
“At the moment we are looking for more money to make certain that all businesses affected will be catered for,” said the Minister. “We feel your loss.”
Lautafi said the government is negotiating with the Development Bank of Samoa for further assistance. Furthermore, he said a Trust Fund is likely to be set up to help the businesses affected.
The government’s response follows the devastating fire last Saturday.
On Friday, Federal Pacific Insurance (F.P.I) responded promptly by paying the insurance claim lodged by the S.L.C.
Asked how much the insurance claim was worth, Lautafi said it was $95,000.
“The money has already been used up to clean the area, paying machines and cutting down poles and preparing the temporary market,” said Lautafi.
A.C.C. General Manager, Muliagatele said they have discussed the possibility of space for the business owners at Fugalei.
She said about 80 blocks at Fugalei are available for the flea market stalls should they choose to move there.
Muliagatele added they understand the situation faced by the small businesses and have offered them a lower rent of $6 per day.