Development aid and the cost of indifference

Dear Editor,

The healthy discussions on social media regarding development aid, including articles from our Donor Partners, warrant a follow up response from HRPP.

Many online exchanges on the misuse of budget support for campaign purposes are conducted in the Samoan language, and the subtle references to cultural practices that promote the corrupt use of development aid are not fully understood by the diplomatic community in Samoa.

Hence HRPP Letters to the Editor are written in English for their enlightenment!

It is a very dangerous precedent when a senior Cabinet Minister is able to mislead the American Samoan Government in an illegal deal granting them 400 acres of Samoan farmland and cattle.  

Even worse is when he embarrasses his Prime Minister by letting her tell Parliament and the nation that there was no such deal, and that this was “fake news.”

Unless the Cabinet Minister is held accountable, this will become business as usual for all Donors.

As a partner with successive HRPP Governments, Australia, New Zealand and other Development Partners supported strategic priorities that invested in the people of Samoa.

This resulted in a competent and internationally respected civil service that worked diligently with a dynamic private sector and local communities to drive a strong economy.

It also paved the way for many Samoan families to pursue opportunities abroad resulting in a thriving diaspora that continues to support the growth of our country.

Short-sighted policies deprive opportunities for Samoans.

The economic, social and human development of our nation will not be achieved today or tomorrow by simply limiting Samoans to pushing empty wheelbarrows, mowing bushes, and cutting trees that will destroy our rain forests.

The materials used for this scheme is being sourced mainly from one hardware company that supports the FAST Party, and will cost the Australian, New Zealand, Samoan and other donor taxpayers a staggering $WST204,000,000 in 2025!

A similar programme was in place from 1976 to 1979 under the Tupuola Efi Administration and funded by the UN.

The programme was unceremoniously terminated because the recipient villages were selling barbed wire and other farming tools cheaply to neighboring villages.

Even bags of expensive fertilizer were found scattered in the bushes, unused.

The sad reality of the FAST Government’s priorities cannot be explained in technical and jargon filled essays about development aid processes – processes that are actually designed to prevent, not justify, gimmick-filled get rich quick schemes for vote buying.

Australia, and all genuine development partners, must not be passive witnesses to irresponsible governance.


Development Partners cannot play the role of Pontius Pilot in the development of our small island nations.

The cost of indifference is simply too high.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Leader of HRPP




Samoa Observer

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