Tupa’i Saleimoa’s plea, business climate and Polynesian Airlines
The Government should consider the plea from the President of the Samoa Hotels Association, Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai, urging them to revisit its plan to cancel flights between Samoa and Fiji. It is not too late.
With all the uncertainties facing the world, and the hospitality and tourism industry taking the full brunt of these negative developments, Tupa’i is not alone in his views expressed on the pages of the Sunday Samoan. We’re quite sure the President of the S.H.A’s opinion would be widely shared by the business community; many of them are already hurting.
What with the measles crisis, the coronavirus and the bad weather developments, this is a lot to take on. How long more can these businesses, let alone Samoa, continue to absorb these negative blows?
We don’t know the answer but what we do know is that they are hurting and because of that, it will ultimately impact on the people of this country. And it will hurt where it counts the most, in their pockets.
When businesses struggle, jobs are among the first to feel the impact. This is in a country where there are already very few jobs. With the losses as a result of the crises we’ve highlighted, many companies would be forced to cut costs by reducing their workforce. For some businesses, they will be forced to cut working hours for people who are already working on the very bare minimum. There is no ending to the knock on effect. It will impact on families’ ability to buy food, clothes, water, electricity, pay for education, health care and much, much more.
This is why the Government needs to tread very, very carefully. There is a lot at stake, especially given the precarious situation Samoa is in today. They must ensure that if they persist with the plan, it is done as a result of a calculated move backed by a proper feasibility study.
There is a need for a proper cost and benefit analysis, one that provides the pros and cons of such a decision. What’s more important is that such a study should at least provide an assurance that the decision will benefit the country, instead of piling on another burden, in what already appears to be a self-inflicted disaster.
The truth is that looking at what has been said publicly thus far since a Cabinet paper revealed the plan last week, nothing inspires any real confidence. With the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance saying the Government would do “anything” to help Samoa Airways, this smacks of arrogance on the Government’s part. What is that suppose to mean? Is he saying even if they drag the entire country down the drain that they would insist with their plan? Ridiculous.
Ironically, it wasn’t that long ago that the Government made a song and dance about Samoa’s brand new $140 million airport. At the time, they talked about making Faleolo the hub of regional travel. How is the decision to cancel flights to Fiji going to help achieve that goal? Keep in mind that the only flights, which regularly land at Faleolo, are from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
Now that Fiji is likely to be axed, what does that make of the Government’s plan to make Faleolo a regional hub? What was the point of spending all those millions on a brand new airport?
Speaking of airports, think of international airlines looking at Samoa for potential business. It is highly unlikely that any of them would want to take Samoa seriously as a business partner given the treatment of Fiji Airways. Let’s not forget what happened to Virgin Australia only a few years back. This does not look good for Samoa and the international business community will follow this very closely.
The point is that we truly hope the Government would reconsider its decision before it commits the country to another poorly thought-out decision that would end up hurting our people in the long run. As this newspaper has spelled out time and time again, the cost of these decisions will be borne by businesses and taxpayers of this country.
The losses incurred by Samoa Airways will not stop with the government and government officials. This country, including some of its poorest citizens, will again be asked to fork out for it. In Samoa today, that is the last thing our people need given everything else that has been happening.
Has the Government forgotten about Polynesian Airlines and how it nearly bankrupted this country?
Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!