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P.M. defends infrastructure investment track record

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has defended his Government’s track record in infrastructure investment, saying “spinoffs” from projects such as the Faleolo International Airport are immense and Samoa’s tourism industry is benefiting.

Going on air on Saturday on his 2AP radio programme, Tuilaepa said the criticism last week by the Tautua Samoa leader, Luagalau Dr. Afualo Salele showed that he did not understand the term “spinoff” from such Government-funded projects.  

“The way I see it, he teaches in the area of proper developments but I’m not so sure if he understands how to use the word spinoff,” he said. “A spinoff is a blessing which the country receives, different from those usual achievements to build a development.” 

Dr. Afualo had made reference to the State’s investment in the Faleolo International Airport, and emphasised that it is a prime example of questionable investment, after a Japanese study concluded that the aerodrome is susceptible to extreme weather conditions, and required the use of a backup airport at Ti’avea. 

But Tuilaepa defended the Government’s decision to invest in Faleolo, saying the benefits that trickled down to Samoa’s tourism sector were immense.

“There’s the airport for airplanes’ landings for foreigners’ travels, the airplanes for us to ride on, and ventilate while visiting overseas countries. That’s the main point and importance. So the question is, what other spinoffs? What other achievements aside from this achievement?”

Spinoffs from the airport infrastructure project continue to benefit the country and contribute to Samoa’s economic development, the Prime Minister added.

“How much money are our hotels gaining within a year and from other developments, from these tourists? Half a billion Tala,” Tuilaepa reiterated. “Now you see these achievements? Job provision for our people to work and earn money for their children’s education, for church offerings and village contributions, see how the achievements are also expanding out to the villages? Those are what you call spinoffs and achievements including the airport and the new airplane.

According to the Prime Minister, competition is the key to an inexpensive economy and with Samoa having its own aircraft, it offers a cheaper option for travel and is an alternative to Air New Zealand.

“It’s now a competition with Air New Zealand because with such development, without competition, one would have to take control and we would be in trouble.”

Taxi operators and bus drivers are also direct beneficiaries of the spinoff, Tuilaepa added as tourists are fascinated with Samoa’s form of public transportation.

Other spinoffs include Air New Zealand lowering their sales prices as part of competition on the New Zealand-Samoa route.

The Prime MInister then attacked Luagalau, saying he should stick to teaching as that is what he is trained for. 

“Now you see how there’s no many spinoffs? But the professor does not understand? My advice to the professor is to appropriately teach the children of Samoa. That’s what you were trained for. Teach the Samoan children I see that you have a big problem.”

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