Economy, job growth results mixed: Govt.
Samoa’s progress towards achieving a United Nations goal of providing its population with decent work and economic growth has been mixed, a Government review has found.
The Government achieved one of its targets on national compliance with labour rights but it missed another 2020 target for reducing the number of youth not in school or employment.
The progress is measured in a report issued by the Government last year titled: “Samoa’s Second Voluntary National Review.”
The review is dedicated to charting Samoa’s progress relative to a United Nations “Sustainable Development Goal” on improving the economy. The goals are a set of interlinked policy targets designed to improve global prosperity by 2030.
The report found that Samoa is trending below its annual national Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) growth target.
Unemployment rates are also rising especially for youth and women and despite Government legislation and efforts, there are incidences of child labour and income inequality.
The report stated that the Samoan National Tripartite Forum (S.N.T.F.) plays an active role in pursuing decent work for Samoans, however, youth unemployment doubled from 16.4 per cent in 2012 to 31.9 per cent in 2017.
Unemployment rates are twice as high for women with 21.3 per cent compared to 10.3 per cent of men.
“The recent Measles Epidemic and current COVID-19 is already affecting employment, income and will have severe repercussions on national efforts on employment and reducing inequality,” read the report.
The report noted that prior to the pandemic, Samoa was considered one of the best performing economies in the Pacific increasing its output at a yearly average of 4.3 per cent between 1998 and 2008.
Samoa's macroeconomic performance was greatly hampered by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and frequent natural disasters.
Since 2015 real G.D.P. per capita annual growth ranged from 3 per cent in 2015 to 1.7 per cent in 2018 and 3.5 per cent in 2019.
“However, G.D.P. for December 2019 decreased by 3.7 per cent compared to December 2018.
“This negative performance reflects the impact of the measles epidemic in 2019. Likewise, there is a 0.3 per cent decline in formal employment for December 2019 compared to December 2018.”
A Central Bank of Samoa survey notes that Samoa has a relatively higher number of bank branches per capita compared to other Pacific states, and more women in Samoa own bank accounts than the global average.
“Formally employed adults are more likely to [have bank accounts] than those who are informally employed,” the report says.
“The Government has achieved one of the targets on national compliance with labour rights and has an active tripartite forum that has a good representation of women.
“The S.N.T.F. is an important forum to consider and effectively improve national employment policies, advancing worker’s rights, ensuring adequate employment in pursuing decent work.”
Despite these positive shifts, Samoa has missed the 2020 target for reducing the number of young people not in school or employment and is trending below its annual national G.D.P. growth target of 3.5 per cent.
The trend towards dropping G.D.P. is only likely to continue; estimates from the World Bank and Asian Development bank estimate that the country’s economic output will decline by between 8 to 10 per cent this year.
“Unemployment rates are rising (14.5 per cent) especially for youth (31.9 per cent) and women (21.3 per cent) and despite government legislation and efforts, there are incidences of child labour and income inequality,” the report states.
“The recent Measles Epidemic and current COVID-19 crisis are already affecting employment, income and will have severe repercussions on national efforts on employment and reducing inequality.
“Furthermore, the report states that Samoa has shown resilience in rebounding back from multiple external and natural shocks and showing generally positive economic growth trends supported by strong recoveries in the tourism and remittances sectors. Good progress is also being made in financial inclusion efforts.”