Proposed merge for Govt. land entities on hold

Plans to merge three Government entities that administer landholding registered under the Government is yet to be implemented. 

Cabinet has decided to merge the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.), Samoa Trust Estate and Corporation (S.T.E.C.) and Land Board — which are currently under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MNRE) — and this confirmed in the Cabinet Directive, FK (15) 31. 

The Cabinet Directive is for the  S.L.C., S.T.E.C. and the Land Board to come under a new Government ministry or corporation. 

However, the Cabinet Directive is yet to be implemented by the relevant authorities. 

According to the S.L.C. Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Petelo Kavesi the proposed merge is pending. 

“We are still continuing with our daily operation as usual and likewise for S.T.E.C. and the Land Board,” said Ulugia. 

“That was the Cabinet Directive at the time but at the moment there was a decision from Cabinet to allow the entities to continue on with their usual operation and responsibilities for now. 

“But the best person for you to talk to is the Deputy Prime Minister Chairing the committee.” 

It was not possible to get a comment from Chairperson for the Committee tasked to look into the merger, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa II as she is currently abroad on duty travel. 

Questions sent to S.T.E.C. Chief Executive Officer, Patea Malo Setefano via email were not responded to.

S.T.E.C., S.L.C. and the Land Board are three separate entities under which Government land is registered.

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In 2009, the reconstruction of the then W.E.S.T.E.C. resulted in Government settling all its debt of $23,286,782.00 

At the time Government took control of about 24,000 acres of S.T.E.C. land. 

S.L.C. was then set up by the Government in the same year under the Companies Act 1955 repealed by the now Companies Act 2001 which the Corporation is registered under. 

The corporation was mandated to divest the 24,000 acres and repay Government the amount of $21 million with $2 million to be repaid to S.T.E.C.  

S.L.C’s overall goal is to divest its assets on a commercial basis, to assist with the promotion of social-economic development for the people of Samoa. 

On the other hand, S.T.E.C’s main activities are the development and management of plantation on Upolu, wholesaling and retailing cattle, producing and selling coconuts, fire woods and dried copra. 

The activities that are still in operation as at 30 June 2016 are coconuts, copra, fire woods, talo, banana and livestock. 

S.T.E.C. owns approximately 8,177 acres of land at Mulifanua. 

It has recently revitalised its crops development project which include cocoa, coffee, bananas, taro, tahitian lime, and coconut.

According to S.T.E.C. Annual Report 2017, about 500 acres of land has been earmarked for development. 

From that number, 595 number of acres allocated to lease agreement, 500 acres allocated to crops development as of June 2017 with 7082 acres available. 

S.T.E.C. as a lessor, leases out acres of land at Mulifanua to companies and Government ministries at a rate of $2,875 per acre annually. 

The report revealed that schools and villages also lease land from the corporation at a much lower rate of $115, VAGST exclusive, per acre annually. 

The amount of acres leased out ranges from 200 acres to 0.5 acres annually. 

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