Opening country office will benefit Samoa

A permanent country office in Samoa will enable the Asian Development Bank to better support the Government and the people of Samoa, the bank has said.

Delegates from the bank concluded a three-day visit in Samoa, where President Takehiko Nakao, regional director for the Pacific Masayuki Tachiiri and Director General for Pacific Department Carmela Loscsin visited various project sites funded by A.D.B and conducted bilateral meetings.

Masayuki Tachiiri, regional director of A.D.B.’s Pacific sub-regional Office in Suva, Fiji said changing their current mission in Samoa from an extended mission to a permanent office is important.

“For a country like Samoa hands-on support for day-by-day operations and understanding the needs of the Government and the people is very critical. 

“Looking at the countries from Manila headquarters or even the Suva office is not easy,” he said.

Having staff on the ground, including a Samoan national heading the office, Maria Melei, is critical as they know the political and cultural structures of the country deeply, said Mr Tachiiri.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for foreigners to understand.

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“If we have Samoan nationals living here, working day by day with the Government that will be helpful.”

Going forward, climate change will be a focus for the bank on where it will direct its funding, but considering the needs of a small economy is also top of the list.

Mr Tachiiri said admitting where small economies are weak helps develop them.

“We understand the special needs because of the remoteness of the country, the smallness of the market, and the general weakness of the institutions. 

“That, we need to admit because it’s a small country. We do need more resources to support the Government.”

Building infrastructure in Pacific Island nations costs more than it does in larger countries. Mr Tachiiri said being in Samoa has helped the A.D.B understand this better.

“We need to mobilise a contractor, we need to import materials and that all adds to the cost, he said.

“We now understand these issues more clearly so we’ve decided to increase our resources for smaller countries.”

According to a statement by A.D.B, financing from the bank’s Asian Development Fund (A.D.F) for Samoa could reach US$100 million before 2020, and the bank intends to mobilize funds from the Green Climate Fund, the World Bank, Australia and New Zealand.

In the Pacific generally, active A.D.B projects are worth over US$3 billion dollars as of the end of 2018.

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