Samoa declaration adopted, meeting hailed

All is well that ends well.

Ask any of the 122 delegates, who attended the 39th annual meeting of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (A.D.F.I.A.P.) in Apia this week, and this is what they will say. 

The meeting wrapped up on Wednesday with the drafting of the “Samoa Declaration”.

Chairman of A.D.F.I.A.P., Arjun Fernando, said the declaration is set up to ensure that there will be a continuity of what they had discussed during the meeting. 

“We always do that every time we have a meeting so that it doesn’t become another session,” he said. 

The Samoa Declaration is an important step.

“The A.D.F.I.A.P. Secretariat will monitor and see if we are on track with what has been put forth in this declaration,” he said.

“Every country and region does things differently and this meeting provided us with the chance to share and exchange our knowledge and experiences on areas that need improvement. But then it’s up to each country to decide what they want to do and which is more applicable to their situation. 

“The Secretary General and the team will be supervising and monitoring these clauses and what we usually do is that when we meet again after six months, we talk and discuss the updates and how it has been progressing so that we know where to go from there.”

Leta Havea Kami, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tonga Development Bank, said the meeting was significant for the region.

 “This is my first time attending an A.D.F.I.A.P. meeting,” she said. 

“And I thank Samoa and especially to my three sisters here for rising up to take on this hosting role so that I can come and attend. 

“These meetings are usually held in Russia or Vietnam and like the next meeting, it will be held in Botswana, and I don’t think I can attend that because it’s far from home.”

Leta described this meeting as an eye-opener for her.

“The past few days have been very interesting and very educational,” she said. “This meeting has actually opened my eyes to a lot of things much more than I am actually doing in Tonga.

 “In Tonga, we are basically going through a transformation of our development bank because of Westpac withdrawing its operation from the Pacific. That has left the Tongan Government wondering about what they are going to do at the risk of another bank leaving.

We now only have B.S.P., A.N.Z. and Tonga Development Bank. Therefore, the government changed our act to allow our bank to become a commercial bank.”

While in Samoa, Leta said she had the chance to communicate and learn from other financial institutions and other development bank officials, on how to do different projects successfully for the benefit of the people. 

“And it made me realise that we can actually do more. What I take away from here is the training opportunity that A.D.F.I.A.P. provides and the networking.” 

The farewell was held at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, joined the participants to celebrate the end of the meeting.

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