The Minister of Samoa Shipping Corporation, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang yesterday said the Corporation (S.S.C.) should focus on its core services and abandon plans to build a hotel.
He said he did not agree with plans by the Corporation to build a bed-breakfast accommodation facility, saying government agencies have a poor track record when it came to managing publicly-funded hotels.
Earlier this month the S.S.C. General Manager, Papali’i Willie Nansen, told Samoa Observer of their plans to invest in an accommodation facility.
But the Minister said he disapproved of the project and will ensure that no public funds are spent on such a project.
“So long as I am the Minister I will not allow the Shipping Corporation to invest in an accommodation or hotel, it doesn’t matter what it is but the fact remains that we will not compete with the private sector,” he said.
“I have already told Papali’i that will not happen because history tends to repeat itself. At the time I was chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, I was against the hotel that was built by the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) and in the end they failed – yet the Shipping Corporation wants to invest into the same project.”
The S.L.C. project that the Minister was referring to is the Malifa Lodge, which was built prior to the S.I.D.S. conference in 2014. Three years after its construction, its owners have put it up for lease.
Turning to the S.S.C., the Minister the corporation should focus on improving ferry services between the main islands of Samoa and other Pacific Island nations.
“They are Shipping Corporation and they should invest in improving the services for the ferries between the two Samoa’s and between Upolu and Savai’i and of course with other Pacific Islands. That is their main role.”
He said the decision to invest in hotels and accommodation facilities is matter for the business community and is not for government entities such as the S.S.C.