Public debt rises to $1.11 billion

The public debt increased to $1.11 billion in the 2018 Financial Year up from $1.04 billion the year prior, the Ministry of Finance accounts reveal.

The Public Account for Financial Year 2018 shows that the $66 million debt increase is composed of $31 million drawn from the Chinese government for the Faleolo International Airport upgrade; $2.77 million for the Petroleum Storage Facility; and $17.9 million for the Samoa Power Sector Expansion project.  

The Samoa Government owes $440 million to the Chinese government making them the country's current largest creditor. 

Second in line are international development organisations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank who have provided loans to the value of $94.61 million, while $24 million is owing to Organisations of Petroleum Exporting Countries (O.P.E.C.).

Domestic borrowing amounts to $19.53 million. 

A total of $64.2 million was spent on loan repayments for the 2018 Financial Year. 

A loan balance is $38.43 million to the Chinese government is listed for a Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) building that is a decade old but has reportedly been in deteriorating condition. For the T.A.T.T.E. building, the Samoa Government still owes $83.44 million and the hospital building had a total of $66.37 million left on its loan. The biggest loan to the Chinese government is the Faleolo International Airport project in the amount of $127 million. 

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The M.J.C.A. building, which was dedicated in 2009, is reportedly in a state of deterioration after its centralised air conditioning system broke down in 2017 and its elevator has stopped working. There are also cracks visible on the concrete banisters and a toilet on first floor has been closed off since 2016. 

The building – which also houses Samoa's District and Supreme Courts – was funded and built by the Chinese government.

For domestic borrowings, the Development Bank owes $7.99 million to the Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.) while Pacific Forum Line owes $8.36 million to U.T.O.S. 

The Samoa Airways loan balance with U.T.O.S. is $2.55 million after the Trust took receipt of a $3.50 million payment in that Financial Year. 

The D.B.S.’s annual report for the Financial Year acknowledged $15.18 million in losses incurred over the past six years. 

Established in 1974, the D.B.S. incurred losses of $6.12 million for the 2013 Financial Year. They increased to $10 million in 2014, a difference of $4.55 million. 

Their deficits continued to increase and, according to the report, in 2016 it reached $13.14 million before its peak in the 2018 Financial Year. 

As reported recently, the inability of hoteliers to repay their loans was cited as a “significant challenge” for the bank and negatively impacted its operations. 

 

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