COVID-19 impacts remittances to Samoa

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has begun to impact Samoan families who rely on remittance from their family members who are seasonal workers abroad.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) has alerted families in Samoa to be wary of the impact of the virus on financial institutions in the countries where they currently work.

The Ministry said financial institutions are changing their policies due to the spread of the virus which can cause delays to enable their family members to send over cash.

“For protection from the COVID-19 spreading around the globe, the New Zealand and the Samoan Governments has announced to all families and parents of overseas male and female seasonal workers, that there may be delaying problems with money sent from the workers to Samoa due to the impacted services of the financial institutions in their allocated countries,” the statement reads.

“This is specifically due to the policies on avoiding more than the limited number of people in the companies where they use to send money to Samoa. Hence why we regret to inform you of this issue disrupting the earnings of the seasonal workers to send money over to their families in Samoa.”

The workers cannot leave their work premises to send money to Samoa due to these policies and this may continue for another four weeks or more, stated the M.C.I.L. statement.

A 25-year-old Manono Island resident who currently works as a seasonal worker in New Zealand, Ioapo Samuelu, confirmed the difficulties that they are currently facing due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I have been having trouble sending money to my families in Samoa due to the policies the financial institutions are carrying out here and it’s sad because my families in Samoa are in need of money right now especially at times like these,” he told Samoa Observer in an interview through Facebook Messenger. 

“Even if I try to send some stuff there for food, it’s hard for me to do so especially now with the situations here but I don’t give my hopes up.”

But the challenges are not just abroad where the seasonal workers are based with Manona Island resident, Talo Faafeu Talo, revealing that the limited travel due to the state of emergency (S.O.E.) has compelled families to live off their plantations and fish. 

New Zealand-based Mr. Samuelu, who is the father of two children, said he sends money to his grandmother and family at Manono and his wife and children in Fagalii village and their welfare remains a major concern for him. 

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