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S.N.P.F. proposes $8.4 million stimulus

The Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) will propose an $8.4 million stimulus package for its members and stakeholders amid the coronavirus-led economic downturn. 

There are three aspects of the draft S.N.P.F. package. 

They include: a one month refund on member loan repayments; a six month moratorium on contribution payments for the hospitality sector; and one month of free rent for all of the tenants at S.N.P.F. properties. 

The proposed measures are revealed in a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Leasiosiofaasisina Oscar Malielegaoi, who is also the Chairman of the S.N.P.F. Board, dated 24 March, 2020.

The letter is signed by the S.N.P.F. Chief Executive Officer, Pauli Prince Suhren, who told the Samoa Observer the letter’s proposed measures had not been finalised, or intended for public release. 

“That confidential correspondence was not meant for public circulation,” he said. 

He also confirmed the S.N.P.F. assistance package is part of a wider more comprehensive finance sector package currently being urgently considered to sustain Samoa's economy. 

“Once this package is finalised and endorsed by Cabinet, the details will be made public,” said Pauli. 

According to the letter, the S.N.P.F. package is designed to be part of an overall finance sector assistance scheme to safeguard and sustain the economy. 

The one month refund on members’ repayments will extend to all members with small loans and short-term loans, who will be given the option of refunding their repayments for the month of March 2020. 

“The total value of this assistance is up to $5.5 million,” the letter said. 

Pauli said he could not answer specific questions about the measures, including whether the waived monthly loan repayments would need to be repaid at a later date. 

The S.N.P.F. also proposes the employers in the hospitality sector will be permitted to postpone their contribution payments for a six-month period from January to June 2020 to be payable in July 2020.

The sector is defined to include hotels, restaurants, bars, car rentals, airlines and travel agents and the total value of the assistance is $2.6 million, according to the letter. 

The proposed waiver for rent for the tenants of the fund’s main building, Plaza, Ace, and all of its other properties has a total estimated value of $302,000, according to the S.N.P.F. 

“There shall also be direct assistance for members who have lost employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis in the most affected industries such as the hospitality sector,” Pauli wrote. 

“However these will be reviewed on a case by case basis.”

The C.E.O. said that further assistance aside will be considered as and when necessary and that the country’s ongoing situation will need to be monitored. 

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