Govt. urged to focus on Health

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and his Government have been urged to focus on health, education and agriculture in its proposed budget for the new financial year.

The call comes from the Interim leader of the Samoa First Political Party, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, who told Samoa Observer that the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic demands that the Government focus on those three priority areas.

“The focus should be on health," she said. 

"We need to have an inquiry into the cause of the measles deaths. That’s still outstanding and also we need to improve our health service and the treatment of people, training for nurses, we really need to improve our health system and education.

“The other thing is agriculture. I’m very disappointed with the low amount for agriculture. It's only $15 million. If we are to be self-sufficient, we really need a bit more money and a bit more investment into the agriculture sector and fisheries, but obviously it doesn’t seem important. Those are the three most important things for us.”

The Government on Tuesday presented its $965 million money plan for the 2020-2021 financial years with the appropriations revolving around the theme, “weaving a prosperous and secure future of Samoa together.”

Dissecting the Government’s proposed money plan, Unasa expressed concern that the budget included allocations for the Court precinct including for new courthouses.

“These are the new courthouses, new court building and you’ve allocated $200,000 to re-roof the court building. There are a lot of other bits and pieces I saw. Even though they allocate several millions, say to the Ministry of Police. But then you see the amount allocated, it exceeds the expenses,” she added.

The Government’s COVID-19 state of emergency (S.O.E.) also came under scrutiny with the party leader claiming that the rights of individuals continue to be violated, due to the prolonging of the SOE lockdown. 

Unasa warned that the lockdown opened the door for local politicians to capitalise on the situation, and push through legislation such as the Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.) bills, which were hurriedly rushed through Parliament’s first and second reading stages.

“I see the Americans protesting and look at us, we don’t have the virus and we’re locked down. The control. Is this really the virus or this an opportunistic room for politicians to come down and basically control us? So many questions to ask. Our freedom of movement, you can’t even go to American Samoa and they can’t come here,” she added. 

Meanwhile, the Samoa First Political Party has supported international calls for an independent international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19. 

Unasa said she supports the international community’s call for an independent investigation into a virus that has now claimed over 350,000 deaths globally.

“It’s a global world now. It’s a global economy and it’s important. There has to be an investigation, it has to be independent. It has to be an independent body of people investigating the causes of this coronavirus. It’s so important – an independent inquiry that we could learn from,” she said.

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