Govt. considers bridge from Upolu to Savai'i
The Government is considering approaching the World Bank to fund a bridge project connecting Upolu, Manono, Apolima and Savai’i.
The Minister for Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, revealed that the plans were being actively considered by the Government during Friday's Parliamentary session.
“It is worth mentioning that it is about time the Government considered seeking assistance from the World Bank to construct a bridge from Upolu [to] Manono [and] Apolima and Salafai," he said.
“This project was considered four years ago, but at that time they [World Bank] were not interested in funding the proposed bridge.
"That has changed and [at] our meeting last year, with the World Bank and it appeared there is a chance they can fund this huge project."
The Minister further said the World Bank had taken into account Samoa's long-term policy planning document, the 2040 Strategy, when considering the merits of the project anew.
Sili noted that education and healthcare remained utmost priorities for the Government and noted that three months ago the World Bank announced the donation of $34 million to manage the measles epidemic and improve the health system.
Of that amount, a grant of $9.3 million will go towards the measles epidemic response, while a further $24.7 has been dedicated to a programme strengthening the health sector and disease prevention efforts over the next five years.
The Minister also stressed the importance of state-owned enterprises (S.O.E.) paying their dividends regularly.
“The problem is that when it’s time for the S.O.E. to pay their dividends [...] these dividend funds are deposited as investments in Commercial Banks and yet we need those funds for Government projects," he said.
The Minister said the time frames that dividends should be paid to Government are governed by specific time frames.
Last year S.O.E.s such as the Electric Power Corporation and the Samoa Water Authority were told to prioritise payment of their loans ahead of Government dividends in a Parliamentary Committee Report for First Supplementary Estimate 2018/2019.
“The Committee found dividends set out to be paid E.P.C. of $2 million and the S.W.A. at $1 million,” stated the report.
“These services and their impacts must be signified by the Government and the Ministry; not [to] the cost of living but the distribution of the service to the country."
“The Committee suggests that E.P.C. and S.W.A. must prioritise the using of its profits to pay its loans.”