Ministry of Foreign Affairs accounts for its budget
The $1.7 million tala allocated to pay for Samoa’s membership fees and grants overseas to international organisations this financial year is to enhance the country's international standing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says.
The membership fee represents a portion of the $23.6 million budget for the Ministry for 2019-2020.
Samoa has membership in some 28 international groups and organisations in which M.F.A.T. is responsible in managing the country’s foreign and trade relations in the region and internationally.
The Chief Executive Officer for M.F.A.T., Peseta Noumea Simi, said the engagement of Samoa in the organisations is to ensure the promotion and enhancement of its interests internationally.
In response to emails from the Samoa Observer, Peseta said the memberships allow Samoa to effectively represent its interests and influence international decisions.
“Our membership of these organisations can allow us to sit at same level and/or have same rights to defend our interests as other countries irrespective of size or economic or military power,” explained the C.E.O.
“Membership can also allow us opportunities to attract positive attention including financial and trade support to assist Government’s efforts in further developing and strengthening its economy and improving overall the welfare and prosperity of all Samoans.”
One of the organisations Samoa is a member of is the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (I.T.F.Y.).
The international criminal tribunal was a United Nations Court that dealt with war crimes that took place during conflicts in the Balkans in Southeast Europe in 1990s.
M.F.A.T. pays an annual membership fee of $2021 to the group.
Peseta said the membership of the tribunal reflects its role as a “global citizen in shaping the international architecture”
“Some of the key outcomes of this tribunal is that, it has laid the foundations for what is now the accepted norm for conflict resolution and post-conflict development across the globe,” explained the C.E.O.
“More specifically; leaders suspected of mass crimes will face justice. The Tribunal has proved that efficient and transparent international justice is possible.”
Furthermore, Peseta said by virtue of Samoa’s UN membership, “we automatically contribute, as all the other UN member states, to the budgets of the Tribunals through assessed contributions”.
The C.E.O. was also asked about Samoa’s membership to the International Tribunal for the Former Rwanda.
While the Tribunal for Rwanda was formally closed in December 2015, M.F.A.T.’s budget shows $1,573 tala continued to be paid to the group.
Peseta said although there were still budget allocations after 2015, payments stopped upon closure of the two tribunals in 2015 ad 2017.
“The unused provisions for the Trust funds for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia in the subsequent FY budgets, were used for payment of our contributions to I.R.M.C.T. (UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ) and M.O.N.U.S.C.O. ([The] UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) respectively that we were not able to cater for due to insufficient funds under the Miscellaneous for Other UN Assessments account (D23).”
The budget shows a fund of $1,573 is paid to Rwanda Tribunal annually.
The bulk of the Ministry’s budget for the current year, about $13.528 million, is put aside to pay for Samoa’s High Commission offices and Embassies overseas.
A breakdown of that total shows $2.818 million goes towards Samoa’s New York Embassy operation.
The second-top post that has highest cost of operation is Samoa’s Embassy in Japan, which costs $1.86 million.
Some $1.795 million is spent maintaining Samoa’s Embassy in Brussels and $1.514 million for the Embassy in China.
The M.F.A.T. has an allocated funding of $3.2 million for the Government’s annual scholarships scheme.
Peseta confirmed the fund for the scholarships caters for around 430 students in any one year.
From those students, 284 scholarships are awarded to those from N.U.S. which includes 50 full awards, 50 partial awards for public, private sector and N.G.Os, 60 for Technical and Vocational Education students, 10 medical students.
According to the C.E.O. there are about 104 students currently continuing those scholarships after meeting continuation criteria.
The scheme also covers for 86 scholarship awards for University of South Pacific students at Alafua.
From those students 20 of them are under the Agricultural awards for undergraduate and degree studies and 46 teachers studying under the Science Teacher Accelerated Programme (for in-service teachers).
In addition, there are 23 students studying in “one-off establishment allowance” in Chinese Institution for the 2019 Intake Studying.