What the government has done
The government has created several job opportunities over the past decade. For example:
1. It passed the law to make it easier for small operators to start up a business in 2001. This led to the start up of many beach fale operations.
2. It privatised and broke up big inefficient government departments like the old Public Works Department. This led to the creation of several road-building companies from those old PWD workers who went out and formed their own companies or became self-employed. The same thing is happening with EPC with a lot of the work being outsourced to local self-employed contractors, who used to be on the public pay-roll but now work for themselves (but forced to compete for every job).
3. The deregulation of the Telecommunications sector led to the introduction of 2 private companies (Digicel and Bluesky). Samoatel was privatised and sold to Bluesky. This has created hundreds of jobs in this sector. The competition between the two has led to the huge jump in mobile phone owners in the country and the slashing of call pricing. The previous Telecom ministry would never have been able to achieve this.
4. The RHD change in 2009 was controversial but has led to more cars on the road and therefore more mechanics businesses set up, and more car yards, taxi owners, and rental car operations started.
5. There is currently a strong push for import substitution companies to be set up. This has led to quite a few Chinese-owned shops in the country (many of whom live and are married into Samoan families) which has annoyed people like Moe Lei Sam.
However, the competition provided by these businesses is forcing the previously smug and comfortable afakasi business community to start innovating. The prices are being driven down as a result and this helps drive down the “costs of living” that you Wendy Wonder complain about constantly.
All these businesses are also employing Samoans. Anyone who says that these chinese are not employing samoans is lying. I know for a fact that hundreds of samoans are being employed in these supermarkets and shops.
Things to look forward to in 2017 and beyond:
1. The fibre optic cable that is being connected from Fiji is going to be a real game changer for Samoa. The opportunities for more businesses to be started up and employment opportunities to come from this cable are huge.
More jobs in digital television (digital TV comes to Samoa in late 2017); more competition in internet providers; more opportunities for things like call centres to be started up; etc. The minister here, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, is not stopping with just this Tui Samoa cable. He’s going on and trying to get more fibre-optic cables to come to Samoa. I hope he can get the Hawaiki cable that American Samoa has signed up to because that would just be heaven for Samoa. The hawaiki cable has more capacity than the Tui Samoa cable. The more cables the better.
2. The completion of the international airport will herald in more opportunities for jobs at the airport (cleaners; security guards; self-employed contractors to maintain the various systems at the airport etc) as well as for more retail space at the airport and more flights to come into Samoa which in turn increases the number of tourists flying in and therefore increases the number of hotels and motels in the industry. The expanded airport is certainly an economic stimulator.