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Apia’s 1000 cleaning warriors and the benefits of an investment roadshow

Can you feel the positive vibes after the big clean-up in the town area and the river banks of Apia last Saturday? Organisers say approximately 1000 people heard the call for action and turned up Saturday morning. Congratulations to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) for leading the effort and the volunteers who gave up 3-4 hours of their time on Saturday morning for a worthy cause.The public response and the amount of rubbish collected has caught the eye of the MNRE and SPREP — who thankfully are already thinking long-term — in terms of future planning for the Samoa Government when other initiatives such as the 2020 Styrofoam products ban are rolled out. MNRE Assistant Chief Executive Officer (environment and conservation), Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, said he was very interested in the data collected.“It is very important for us to look into this data to inform future planning, and also to look at the effectiveness of the ban on plastic that came into effect on the 30th of January. “Whether there is a reduction in plastic or if there is an increase, this is important information and data the Ministry will be looking at after the weighing and analysis is done next week,” he said, in an interview with the Samoa Observer.It is perhaps still early days after the Samoa Government’s ban on single use plastic and plastic straws went into effect January 30 this year — but it would be good to get some sort of indication on where Apia and its population’s waste management practices — are currently at.Some of the volunteers, who were interviewed by this newspaper last Saturday, said the responsibility to keep our streets in Apia clean is personal and can only start with you and me and everyone else who calls this home. Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) student Shon Eteuati said the rubbish they collected were disposed from people who did not put their rubbish in the bins. “The waste doesnt come from nowhere, people generate it through the use of products and through not properly disposing of it, so it ends up on the side of the road,” he added.But the bigger challenge lies ahead — the ability of the local authorities to garner similar public support for such an initiative — without an incentive such as being host of the 2019 Pacific Games. Coincidentally, on the south coast of Upolu on Saturday, an international business and investment conference was close to wrapping up on that day. The May 23-26 Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase at the Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa — a collaboration with telecommunications company BlueSky and various local and international partners — was being marketed by the Samoa Government and the conference facilitators as the country’s first business and investment roadshow.Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, used the opportunity offered by the conference to assure potential investors of the Government’s commitment to Public Private Partnerships. “Samoa’s Government remains committed towards supporting initiatives that strengthen our Public Private Partnership with the aim of stimulating economic prosperity, and employment creation for all,” he wrote in the salutations section of the conference programme booklet, which was distributed to all participants.According to Minister Lautafi, the Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase will become an annual event on Samoa’s events calendar. Making the conference an annual event would augur well for those conference participants, who used the opportunity to network or display products, especially if they were Samoan business owners. They can looking forward to next year.It is time to market the investment potential of Samoa to the world, and an annual business and investment conference, could perhaps be the vehicle to use to woo potential investors. The timing of the conference last week at the Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa could not have come at a better time for Poutasi-based jam manufacturer Cédric Holtz? He recently announced that he is selling his company Fruit Pacifique and moving to new opportunities abroad and is on the lookout for a buyer.We look forward to the 2020 Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase and the positive effects it could have on the Samoan economy over the long-term period.Have a lovely Monday Samoa and God bless. 

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Street Talk

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What should be the minimum wage for workers?

I am now an unemployed person but working back in the days enabled me to see how you work hard for less. Back then we used to have only about $1.00 tala or some cents added to it as our minimum wage and it was okay. I guess back then everything was very cheap and affordable and we couldn't ask for more. But with the rise in the standard of living today, I know how it feels to not earn enough, I think the current minimum wage is not enough for families to feed themselves. I have children who work too and I feel sorry for them with the minimum wage that Samoa has. I think it's time to raise the minimum wage to say $5.00 an hour or even more. That's what I think.Given how expensive things are right now, I don't think the gap between $2.00 and $4.90 per hour is enough for the people to earn from a whole week of struggling to find food to put on the table. Everyone knows how living as a Samoan is and living in Samoa. It's not easy but if we give it our all and try to think about our children, who are running around the country to work their minds off in ministries and companies and wherever they work, then we will know how hard it is to earn that less. I think $5.00 should be the minimum wage by now or even more because I have seen that we are getting a lot of blessings from overseas countries. Where are all these blessings going to? Let's reconsider and this is to the Government or whoever is handling minimum wage.Increasing the minimum wage is something the country should consider. When I remember what the wage is per hour then that's where the frown comes in. Me or even my fellow taxi drivers do not deserve that kind of minimum wage, given how hard we're working under the sun trying to look for passengers. We all know that life is getting more and more expensive, but if we are surviving with this kind of wage then we are not on the right track. Maybe $3.50 or $5.00 or even more would at least be enough.Life right now is very much expensive. For example, me as a resident and an employer, who comes all the way from Mulifanua to Apia for work. The cost for the bus fare is $4.00 for one way and if I travel to and from Apia everyday for work and my payment a week is say $100 or $150. To be honest, the only money that will be left for me and my children to use, is just $80 a week or two weeks. How will that feed my children and get them to school? I prefer that the minimum wage should be increased to at least $5.00 or more so most families can feed their children and bring them to school without any worries or doubts.I think people should be appreciative of the minimum wage our country can afford right now. Our people need to support what our leaders are doing to run our country. If they give too much then what money will they use to run our country? I prefer that whatever minimum wage we have right now is enough to raise our families, especially our children.

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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