Tourism's budget relief
The tourism sector will be relieved to have received a six month freeze on their national provident fund and accident compensation payments as well as a hefty discount on their power usage for three months.
In the supplementary budget and COVID-19 relief package tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister of Finance Sili Epa Tuioti revealed the private sector stimulus package of $12.5 million.
He said the package is intended for the next three to six months, and as well as the private sector targets Samoa’s citizens, food security and health response in the wake of COVID-19.
Tourism operators are receiving a six month holiday on paying their employees Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) and Accident Compensation Corporation (A.C.C.) payments.
The move is budgeted to cost $2.6 million for the S.N.P.F. payments and $1 million for the A.C.C. payments, including a two month moratorium for non-tourism businesses.
The Ministry of Finance has been contacted to define which businesses are considered to be in the tourism sector and eligible for these benefits under the stimulus package.
For the rest of the private sector the package is largely in the form of discounts on Government managed assets, slashing rent and fees on state-owned properties.
Businesses renting at the S.N.P.F. and A.C.C. buildings will get two months of free rent, expected to cost the Government $11 million.
There is also three months of free rent for businesses at Faleolo International Airport, at Apia and Mulifanua wharf, at the Samoa Land Corporation markets and in the Development Bank of Samoa.
All cargo and fishing boats are receiving 20 per cent off their wharf fees for three months, and the local stevedoring agents will be getting three months of their licensing fees refunded.
“Our tourism industry has taken a huge hit as the coronavirus comes immediately at the heels of the detrimental effects of the measles epidemic,” Sili said.
“The social welfare and prosperous future of any nation therefore relies heavily on the policy actions and decisions to be made by its leaders.
“It is our belief that the solutions to ensuring the future of this nation lies within our borders and we have at our fingers the necessary tools to ensure smooth sailing for our economy that will secure a quality of life for every citizen.”
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has not responded to requests for comment.