ADB boss optimistic of Samoa's ambitions

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 13 February 2024, 6:00PM

The Vice President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) praised Samoa's ambitious development plans and its relationship with the ADB during his inaugural visit to Samoa and the Pacific since taking office.

In an exclusive interview with the Samoa Observer, ADB Vice President, Scott Morris highlighted the longstanding relationship between Samoa and ADB, dating back to the institution's founding, which underscores the depth of cooperation between the two. 

He lauded Samoa's commitment to robust infrastructure development, particularly in enhancing climate resilience, upgrading the port in Apia, and improving critical roads to mitigate flooding—a testament to Samoa's proactive approach to tackling complex challenges.

"Well, I'm thrilled to be here, and I should emphasise that Samoa is the first country and also my first stop in the Pacific in my role at ADB.," he told this newspaper. 

"So I think it speaks very highly of our relationship with Samoa, which goes back to the founding of ADB. And, you know, we chose this visit deliberately. 

"In terms of what I see here, I'm deeply impressed with the ambition of the government for an overall development agenda, but particularly for the role that ADB will play as a partner. 

"We are pursuing big infrastructure to make it more climate resilient, upgrades to the port here in Apia, which are critical, the roads, and efforts to control flooding. These are big-dollar investments. 

"They're often complex projects to undertake, but I'm coming away with a lot of confidence about our ability to pursue those together and the commitment of the government.

"There's just a lot that we can deploy our resources to support."

Morris emphasised the significance of the substantial investments made by ADB in Samoa, recognising the government's dedication to private sector development and skills training initiatives. He expressed confidence in the ability of Samoa and ADB to collaborate effectively on these ambitious projects, citing them as examples of fruitful partnerships between the two.

Morris outlined his intention to share Samoa's success story with ADB donors to encourage increased investment in the region. 

He underscored the importance of robust financial support in determining the scale and scope of future development initiatives, expressing optimism about the potential for continued partnership between Samoa and the ADB.

Regarding the opening of the ADB's Pacific Country Office in Samoa, Morris emphasised it was practical and had symbolic significance. 

According to Morris, the office not only provides a conducive working environment for ADB missions but also symbolises ADB's long-term commitment to Samoa and its role as a valued partner in the region. 

He also noted that the office serves as a focal point for collaboration between ADB and the Samoan government, reaffirming ADB's dedication to supporting Samoa's development agenda.

"One of my goals is to leave here and go back with a good story to tell to our donors to motivate them to be more ambitious in the resources they provide because that will determine what we can do in the future. 

"But I am fully confident that we will always have good ideas and good opportunities here to pursue in Samoa. And I think for me as a starting point, I'm optimistic and excited about this partnership in the years ahead."

Vice President Morris was appointed by ADB to manage the operations of ADB's East and South East Asia and the Pacific Department in September of 2023, for three years. 

Morris is an expert on development finance and debt policy with more than 25 years of experience in international economic policymaking and research.

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 13 February 2024, 6:00PM
Samoa Observer

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