Halt declining G.D.P. growth rate: party leader

The Tautua Samoa Party leader, Afualo Luagalau Dr. Salele, has expressed concern at the decline in Samoa’s Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) which fell by 16.3 per cent in the September 2020 quarter due to impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The figures were revealed in a report titled “Gross Domestic Product” for September 2020 quarter issued by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics.

According to the report, the G.D.P. continues to plummet making this reviewed quarter the largest quarterly decline since the national accounts quarterly series began in 1998.

Furthermore, the notable decline this quarter follows revised growth rates of -10.7 per cent and -3.3 per cent in the June and March 2020 quarters respectively.

The total G.D.P. at constant prices stood at $446.9 million, making it the lowest quarterly outturn since June 2014. 

In addition, the unprecedented nature of this rapid economic deterioration caused by the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected economic activity in the September 2020 quarter through travel restrictions, reduced trade, global control measures and national lockdown.

“It has directly affected all sector of the economy with retailing and wholesaling activities, accommodation and restaurant, air and sea transport, construction, communication and financial services being the hardest hit,” reads the report. 

The reviewed quarter, being the largest quarterly decline since 1998, has led to the Tautua Samoa Party’s leader urging the Government to take immediate action before the economic situation worsens.

“That is a huge hit for the economy, everyone is feeling it, the business community including the Government,” Afualo told the Samoa Observer.

He said that the Government needs to come up with a good stimulus package to try and revive the economy especially the private sector.

“I know there were previous [stimulus] packages but these stimulus packages cannot cushion the negative impact of the decline.”

He also made reference to the exports which has continued to decline in recent years.

“It is the responsibility of any Government to pump in any cash to stimulate the [economic] growth especially when we look at the money supply.

“Thankfully the remittances continue to increase, thanks to our people living abroad with their spirit of giving to care for their families here. It is an aspect to the Samoan culture to look after our family especially our parents.”

Afualo also expressed that if the decline continues, he is concerned unemployment numbers will increase especially in the private sector. 

“There would be a lot of businesses in Samoa that would close and cease operations. 

“With the increase in numbers of people unemployed, it is expected to have a lot of social challenges that will follow.”

He added that an example could be the crime rate increasing due to no jobs hence people resort to crime, “we do not want that to happen.” 

He also said that it is not fair that Government employees are being employed while the private sector has lost so many workers.

“The reality is we are in a recession, if the decline continues, there is what they call a depression.”

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