Happy New Year, Samoa!
Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister of Samoa
New Year Address 2017
His Highness the Head of State
Members of the Council of Deputies
Ministers of Cabinet
Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary
Speaker and Members of Parliament
Ladies and gentlemen
On this first day of the New Year 2017, I extend warmest greetings to our people, relatives, friends and visitors from abroad who are here for the festive season.
We give thanks to our Lord God for His unceasing love and guidance over the last year.
We farewell 2016 with much satisfaction of our achievements, and take forward to 2017 lessons to fortify government’s efforts, in strengthening our country’s economic development, and to make our homes and communities safer.
The general elections in March reaffirmed our people’s continuing support for the HRPP, to remain at the helm of government.
I remain humbled by the continuing confidence and trust in the HRPP led government. Our determination and commitment is as strong as it has always been throughout our time in government, to do the best for our people and country.
Our economy picked up strongly last year following strong growth in fish export, notable gains in accommodation and restaurants, and remarkable growth in the transport and construction sectors, with a number of government projects currently under construction. This has consequently led to real GDP growth of 6.4% for 2016 compared to 2% in 2015.
I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the hard working public servants, private sector and the local communities whose efforts, sheer determination and assiduousness, have led to the manifestation of many accomplishments for Samoa.
Some of the major highlights of the year include the completion of the four lane road works on the west coast road, which has greatly improved transportation in and out of Apia Township. These road works will continue further towards Faleolo international Airport and the wharf at Mulifanua.
Construction works for the single span Leone bridge have commenced, and will soon be followed by new bridges at Vaisigano and Maliolio in Savaii.
The first phase of the Integrated Aviation project involving the new departure lounge for the Faleolo Airport, was completed in November. This project portrays Government’s commitment to the development of tourism, in providing modern facilities for the comfort of travelling passengers, as well as facilitating larger aircrafts bringing more tourists to our shores.
Government is also committed to boosting its economy through tourism, with its investment in the Apia Water Front Development project that extends from Mulinuu to Taumeasina, for a major facelift in its town area. The project will include recreational parks and fun activities for families and tourists.
In the hope of strengthening Samoa’s domestic and international connectivity, the government through the Samoa Submarine Cable Company signed a turnkey contract with Alcatel-Lucentt Submarine Networks, to roll out a new submarine cable system called Tui-Samoa cable that is laid between Samoa and Fiji. This project is expected to provide advanced high speed broadband highway, for inclusive social and economic growth.
The detrimental impacts of Climate Change continued to be felt worldwide and especially in Small Island Developing States like Samoa. The government will continue to work in collaboration with other Small Island states, to open new windows of opportunities for financial assistance, to help with its climate resilience efforts, and to achieve sustainable development goals. In December, the Government hosted the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board meeting in Apia.
The meeting attracted 400 delegates from all regions of the world, and was the first to be held in the Pacific. The meeting culminated in the approval of 4 project proposals from Small Island Developing States, including Samoa’s proposal of SAT$143 million, for integrated flood management to enhance climate resilience of the Vaisigano catchment. These funds no doubt will greatly enhance economic activities in the country in the coming years.
In this connection of realizing our country’s aspirations, I would like to express our deep gratitude to governmental development partners including Australia, China, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as the key international organizations supporting our development efforts including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Agencies.
The government continues to seek more avenues to provide new employment opportunities for our people. This has been realized through the Seasonal Employment Programmes with New Zealand and Australia. This year saw the number of seasonal workers being deployed to New Zealand and Australia exceeds 1600 for the first time.
It was also the first time that qualified and experienced local builders from Samoa, were recruited under the first trades’ project - the Canterbury Pilot Programme for Christchurch, New Zealand. It is anticipated that more trades will open up seasonal employment opportunities for our people including fisheries and tourism.
Samoa is a proud sporting nation. And in every human endeavor, results may not always reflect expectations.
The undoubted high points were Lupesoliai Laaulialemalietoa Joseph Parker’s historic achievement, in becoming the first Samoan, to be crowned Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, and Ele Opeloge’s tremendous achievement, in finally being awarded her Beijing Olympics Silver medal - the very first for Samoa – that she was deprived from rightfully receiving on the Olympic dais. Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph and Ele have set the benchmarks for our athletes to aspire to.
Last week, His Highness, the Head of State offered Christmas greetings and encouragement to our people to strive for excellence through faith in God. In this same vein, I encourage all our people to never give up in doing good deeds for yourself, your family and for Samoa. – In God, all things are possible.
I wish every family and the people of Samoa, a glorious and safe New Year.
Ia Manuia le tausaga fou.