Finance Chief optimistic on post-measles growth

The Ministry of Finance is optimistic the impact of the measles epidemic on the national economy can be contained and that the nation will register substantial economic growth this Financial Year. 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, revealed his optimism in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Friday. 

He conceded that while the measles epidemic had a negative impact he anticipates it will mostly be countered by the following five months of economic activity. 

“We may go from 5.5 percent to 5 percent [rates of economic growth] [...] however it’s unclear at the moment [] we may mark up the last months of this financial year," said Leasiosio.

“We still have time to mark up any negative growth from December.”   

  Leasiosio said he broadly expected projections on the nation's Gross Domestic Product - or economic output - to remain stable. 

“As you know that what happens today will impact tomorrow and we have yet to confirm numbers at this stage," he said. 

“We are preparing an assessment team that will work together with the [International Monetary Fund] assessment team that will be here in February to reconfirm the numbers.” 

But he noted that despite the recent downturn, Samoa had started the Financial Year with positive economic momentum. 

“Growth is strong for this financial year as a result of the Pacific Games [and] international meetings we hosted [which meant] immediately the number increased,” he said. 

According to the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) the G.D.P. for the September 2019 quarter reached a high of $528.8 million at constant (real) prices for the first time, amounting to growth of 4.4 per cent.

That increase followed growth of 5.6 per cent in the June 2019 quarter.

This is the fifth consecutive quarter of positive growth in G.D.P. for the economy, says the S.B.S. finance report. 

The overall boost in G.D.P. has been a result of increased economic activity relating to the country playing host to the Pacific Games where more than 5,000 participants from around the region took part, according to the Bureau's analysis.

Leasiosio further said: “Samoa Airways numbers have increased on the number of tourists they bring into Samoa and [who are] utilising our hotels. 

“Another aspect of the G.D.P. growth [includes] Government projects, such as the Vaisigano [Bridge] that stimulates the economy, but we are expecting a one percent drop [as a result of the measles]."

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