Staff members of the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) are moving again.
This time, they are returning their $5.2million headquarters at Tuana’imato, which has failed to attract viable bidders.
The decision has also been forced by the government renting the Vaitele Market to a private business to run it, with the hope of generating some revenue from it.
The decision was confirmed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell.
He said this was the option now since it is not ideal for S.L.C. to continue services on the top floor of the market at Vaitele.
Last week, Chinese businessman, Tuituioaiga Teeking Weng opened a $600,000 Coin Save shop there. The owner of fast growing franchise Coin Save won the bid to operate the Vaitele Market.
Lautafi believes it is likely that the business owner might end up taking over the top floor as well, which had been occupied by S.L.C. staff.
“So it’s not possible to have any government offices here and that’s why it’s better for them to move back (to Tuana’imato) and make good use of that building,” he said.
According to the Minister, while some interest was expressed about the Tuanaimato building, none was viable enough.
“There are a number of those who have shown interest but the thing is they can’t afford the cost of the lease because the Samoa Land Corporation is also looking for profit from it,” Lautafi said.
“It’s not that we couldn’t give it to anyone but we have to look into it and see if those people (businesses) can sustain the rent because it’s a long term commitment.”
“We don’t want to have someone who can’t sustain it… that’s why it’s better for them (S.L.C.) to return there.”
The Corporation vacated the Tuanaimato premises in 2014.
In April 2015, Cabinet announced that the negotiations to lease the office complex at Faleata Golf Course so that it could be converted to a commercially owned accommodation complex, had reached a deadlock.
A statement from Cabinet at the time said the original tender did not stipulate non-negotiable conditions and that allowed the parties to include issues that were outside the original tender scope in their negotiations.
The government said it had exhausted all options available to accommodate the business proposals. In the end they could not agree on a compromise.
And to that extent, Cabinet approved to re-advertise the tender.
“These things happen, it is normal in business transactions,” Lautafi said at the time. “While every effort is made by Government to encourage and assist local business like E.I.L, we have to ensure Government assets are protected.”
“The new tender will include specific details, requirements will be very clear on what is on offer and what can be negotiated and what can’t. The tender document will be made very clear to parties involved.”
“This will minimize a repeat of events highlighted during the last tender process negotiations.”
Government’s initial target was for the new hotel to provide accommodation for overseas athletes during the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015.
Last year, the government offered the building to a foreign group called, Hope for Cancer. But this also fell through.
“The Committee that the government appointed to deal with the Hope for Cancer has been disbanded and this happened when the organization contacted us to give them more time,” the Minister said during a previous interview.