Reconsider Savalalo market plan: Tuilaepa
The Opposition Leader has appealed to the Government, saying it is not too late to consider the former Administration’s Savalalo market plan while accusing N.Z. of playing the geopolitical game.
Speaking after last week’s visit by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the suspended Lepa M.P. and former prime minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi said the visit by a N.Z. Government delegation last week to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand “is to be congratulated.”
"This event provides an opportunity for the leaders of both countries to read the treaty and understand its significance," Tuilaepa said.
"Prime Minister Adern acknowledged in her address at Vailima that it is the only Treaty ever signed by New Zealand.
“It signifies the special relationship that must be honoured by deeds and not by mere words.”
The veteran politician then claimed that N.Z. is being drawn to the geopolitical competition targeting the Pacific Islands “to satisfy its ego for cheap popularity”.
"As New Zealand is drawn more and more towards geopolitical issues to satisfy its ego for cheap popularity, alongside the sudden rush by other powers to set up embassies in the Pacific Islands after years of neglect and empty promises.
“There is a real concern that Samoa is being hoodwinked by the Labour Government leadership via the goodwill shown in mere patting one another on the shoulder amidst Kiwi wine and singing ‘Me He Manu Rere’.”
The former prime minister then turned his attention to the N.Z. Government-funded scholarships program, claiming that it has been slashed and took a swipe at the annual migration quotas for eligible Samoans to migrate to Aotearoa.
"Scholarships to New Zealand have been slashed, the 1100 annual quota conditions of migrating to New Zealand established by protocol and signed by the H.R.P.P. Government in 1982 has been constantly breached, the visitors' visas for urgent family visits are required now to apply online, although well over 95 per cent of our village people are unable to use these modern communication systems. The list goes on."
Turning to the proposed Savalalo Market Project to be funded by the New Zealand Government, Tuilaepa said his Administration asked the N.Z. Government to put their offer on hold when they proposed to fund the flea market at the same site several years ago.
"A press release in New Zealand following the visitors return to Aotearoa disclosed that the Kiwi Government has agreed to fund a flea market in Savalalo, Apia that was burnt in a fire incident.
"The truth is the market was already rebuilt immediately after the fire. A big building for a food court was completed with portable tents put up for other products sale.
"When the New Zealand Government offered to fund the flea market on the same site several years ago, we requested to put it up on a 10 acre reclaimed land nearby instead.
"The old site is ideal for another multistorey building for both public and business office spaces."
Justifying his argument for the proposed Savalalo market to be built at Sogi, Tuilaepa said Samoa's economy continues to grow after its graduation into a middle income country, and having the market at Sogi will help to address traffic congestion.
"Our economy is rapidly growing since we graduated into a middle income country and with many vehicles imported annually since we switched to driving on the left side of the road in 2009, road congestion has worsened and this is an added factor in the relocation counter proposal," he said.
"It is not too late to reconsider the earlier proposal. Relations between Samoa and New Zealand as friends should be on a two way traffic as envisaged in the 60 year old Treaty between Samoa and New Zealand."
Prime Minister Ardern announced last week in a joint press conference with her Samoan counterpart, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa that N.Z. has offered $20 million tala to rebuild the Savalalo market and $25 million to support Samoa's response to climate change as the two countries wrapped up the 60th Treaty of Friendship celebration.
Ms. Ardern said the commitment is part of Samoa’s priorities and is a token to mark the two countries' shared history.
She noted the importance of the Savalalo market being rebuilt, due to it being an economic hub for small business owners, many of whom are women. The market will be rebuilt at the same waterfront site as the old market.
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