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Samoa facing coronavirus uncertainty: P.M.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has told a virtual summit of global leaders on Wednesday night that Samoa continues to grapple with the economic uncertainty posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some 70 heads of state and other Government leaders participated in Global Leader’s Day, which is an International Labour Organisation [I.L.O.] summit dedicated to the world of work. 

The summit began with addresses from Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji’s Prime Minister and the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. 

Tuilaepa said Samoa will continue to be vigilant in protecting Samoa from the virus which has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide. 

Samoa is one of only 12 United Nations member states to claim to have never had a confirmed case of the virus on its shores. 

But he said the implementation of protection measures was limited by the country’s limited resources.  

“According to the International Monetary Fund, the projected contraction [of the global economy] in 2020 will exceed 6 per cent,” he said 

“For Samoa alone, it is anticipated that the economy will see a negative growth rate of 3.3% in the current 2019-20 fiscal year.”

Tuilaepa said negative projections for Samoa’s economy reflected the uncertain economic conditions in the global and regional markets.

“There is uncertainty also as to when our borders will fully reopen as the adverse impacts on our tourism industry and trade are already felt,” he added.

“We are reliant on our sector-wide approach and finding innovative solutions to address the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19.

“As we start to repatriate most of our stranded citizens we maintain caution and continue to rely on our neighbours and partners to support our ongoing efforts.”

According to Tuilaepa, the Government of Samoa supports the United Nations in the pursuit of a comprehensive socio-economic response to return countries on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

He said the Government of Samoa will also look to the I.L.O. for new directives on work safety in the wake of the pandemic. 

“Moving forward, the workplace requirements and the business model of public and private enterprises must consider profound changes to ensure people are not exposed to contamination on the way to work or at due to the inadequate environment,” he reiterated. 

Tuilaepa concluded by saying Samoa stood ready to contribute to global discussions on making substantive changes to improve safety. 

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