Govt. urged to ease S.O.E. restrictions to jumpstart economy
Prominent local businessman, Lemalu Ray Ah Liki, is calling on the Government to ease the coronavirus state of emergency restrictions to jumpstart the economy.
Lemalu’s call follows a declaration that Samoa remains free of coronavirus, but also the introduction of new restrictions on Sunday night preventing citizens from going swimming.
Lemalu clarified that he applauded the Government for what he said was quick and necessary action in the face of the crisis over the past four to five weeks.
But now with what he says is the "almost no risk" of the presence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Samoa, he says attention should now be turning to easing restrictions.
"By next week they should be lifting the ban and get our people to start to work again and move the economy because we're going to [have to] rely on our local economy," he said.
"Even with private remittances [they are] starting to slow down, it's declining and for a probable reason as economies overseas are also being affected, in New Zealand and Australia.
"It is harder for them to send money now, they can only send so much."
Last week, the Central Bank of Samoa (C.B.S.) predicts that the country’s gross domestic product (G.D.P.) will fall by 6.6 per cent by the end of the year in response to international border closures resulting from the global pandemic.
Lemalu suggests Samoa needs to have a two-to-three year economic stimulus programme to forestall a major recession. The speed with which the Government reacts proactively is critical, he said.
"The economy needs a big boost through larger spending by the Government to give more purchasing power to the community to drive economic activities of the country," he said.
"There should be more Government and private sector investments to create employment and productivity."
Last week, the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, confirmed the 12 outstanding suspected samples of coronavirus patients in Samoa all tested negative.
Some 259 travellers who had been let back into the country on flights from New Zealand and Fiji and quarantined for 14 days have also been released, leading Tuilaepa to say he was confident that Samoa is safe from COVID-19.
“There are 15 countries [including Samoa] that are free from the deadly virus,” he said.