M.P. wants law to protect local interests
Member of Parliament from Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, is calling on the government to amend business laws to protect the interest of locals.
He wants an amendment to say that foreigners should only be allowed to establish "new" businesses so they will leave the retail industry to the locals.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Olo said Samoa is a small country and soon the new Chinese businesses will snap up everything.
“Samoa has a very small population,” he said. “When we look at the number of Chinese shops in the country these days, I think that is enough.”
Olo said the government needs to be proactive to deal with the issue. And he wants this done immediately.
“The government should amend the Constitution so that it states that Chinese businesses should bring in other businesses that are not yet found, existing or producing products already found in the country,” Olo said.
“When we look around, Chinese can do the elei that most of our people are selling on the street to earn a living every day. They can even cook koko Samoa. So what will be left for our people?”
Olo added that he doesn’t disagree with foreign businesses.
“I agree with the government in bringing these businesses in the country for the first time thinking that they’ll create a big competition here in Samoa, but that’s not what’s happening now,” he said.
“There’s no competition at all, all the Chinese shops sell their goods at the same cost, same price, and I think they’re working together.”
There is no way small local businesses will be able to compete, he said.
The M.P. also raised the issue of money leaving the country.
“They send back millions outside of the country. That means no matter how many millions that a Chinese earns from his or her business (in Samoa), the local business that earns only $1,000 is paying higher taxes than them.”
Olo said he found it sad that many local shops have closed.
“The government’s mode is ‘think business’ but they’re not looking at our own people,” he said.
“Any good government should ensure that every citizen is happy. The thing is to ‘think business’ and consider the wellbeing of our own people so that they are developing.”
He is also calling on the government not to turn a blind eye to the cries of local businesses.
“They should be heard,” he said. “We cannot ignore what they are saying. This is our country and we need to wake up to what is happening.”