Government eyes foreign exchange practices
One of the Central Bank’s key responsibilities is to ensure that we maintain our foreign exchange reserves.
The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa is adamant that there are steps that need to be followed to stop millions of dollars from leaving the country.
“At a certain level we need to be able to fund our imports and we need to pay for all the capital items that are required for our development.” Sili said.
“So obviously there’s a concern that we want to make sure that funds that are remitted outside by investors or by anyone else – have received approval from the Central Bank.
“I would expect whoever is remitting those funds should have a fairly robust discussion with the Central Bank of Samoa.
“Because if they take that money out they will need to borrow from here, so I think there’s also a responsibility on the commercial banks part to make sure of that before they fund them.
“If it’s going to be a refinancing of foreign capital, they need to have those discussions with the committee of officials that approve that kind of foreign investment here.
He said that this is to make sure that they’re meeting the terms and conditions.
“They also need to discuss with Central Bank to make that sure if we do remit the funds, first it meets the criteria of what is expected by the investment committee.
“But also we need to have those discussions with the Central Bank to make sure that the Central Bank is able to support that, but not jeopardize the level of foreign exchange.
“Again it’s a lesson learned. For me it’s important to be learning from what’s happening.
“You know there’s also a lot of speculation, about people illegally taking foreign exchange when they travel, businessmen for example may not be remitting funds to the banking sector as they should be.
“So the Central Bank has already gone out and said that they have been basically informing the public and businesses, that if you’re intending to travel taking more than $20,000 then you need to come and talk to the bank and get a license.
He went on to say that the Central Bank is in the process of looking at having their people at the airport working together with the Ministry of Customs and Revenue so that they can check this area.
“So if you’re caught with foreign exchange that is well outside the limit, then we should be confiscating that money and also maybe looking at reviewing the law to close businesses that are taking funds out illegally.
“So I think that’s how serious the Central Bank is about the issue of companies, foreign investors refinancing and then sending the money out.
“I think that is something that the Central Bank will need to be look at, to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future and if it did happen in the past, we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”