Samoan News, Tala Samoa
Samoa, Tropical Paradise Burdened By German Past
APIA — This South Pacific island hasn't fought a single war in hundreds of years. Here, there is no such thing as a national crisis or an ethnic conflict. Crime is virtually non-existant. A bank robbery that took place five years ago was the first in Samoan history — it is still a topic of discussion.
There are no cold snaps or extreme heat waves in Samoa. You won't find tropical diseases or dangerous animals here, either. The average temperature is 27 °C (80.6 °F). Regular rainfall, combined with an extremely fertile soil, allows a bountiful harvest from only a few seeds. Thick forests and lush vegetation give way to green rolling hills, dotted with small villages decorated with the most beautiful flowers. White beaches are all around.
The 52nd Independence Day celebrations recently took place amid this beautiful, seemingly perfect environment. Samoans are commemorating for the 52nd time the end of the colonial era, when New Zealanders and Germans — in a nutshell, all the white people — left.
The very first colonials masters of Samoa, the Germans did not leave the islands willingly. New Zealanders forced them to leave only three weeks after World War I broke out, as German authorities were vacating the South Pacific. Yet as a look into the local telephone book reveals a hundred years on, many chose to stay.
The German colonial heritage is quite noticeable in many other ways here. For a long time, Samoans benefited from it. Yet it now seems to have become an obstacle on the way to Samoa's prosperity. The island might look like the perfect exotic paradise — but it is an illusion.
History as a burden
Behind exotic landscapes, Samoa is one of the least developed countries of the world, according to the United Nations. While two-thirds of its population work in agriculture, the sector only accounts for 5% of the island's gross domestic income. Heavy storms often lay waste to the island, and are a threat to the safety of Samoans. In 2012 alone, they caused the deaths of 6.42 people per 100,000 — more than anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the exception but the rule.
At the same time, the national debt keeps inflating, as most of the products Samoans need on a daily basis need to be imported. Inflation on the island was at 6.5% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Samoa would be considered a poorhouse if measured by Western standards. But the native islanders' way of life, the Fa’a Samoa, does not give value to money.
Samoa’s head of state, Tupuola Taisi Tufuga Efi, is a much-travelled man and a cultivated politician. He knows Germany well and holds it in high regard, just like many of his fellow countrymen and women do. "It was extremely fortunate that the Germans were the ones to colonize Samoa," Efi said. "They sent the best people to govern us. The British would have never done that."
Yet the fall of the German Empire also left trouble. "A lot of people are leaving the islands," Efi added. Is it because of poverty? "No. Poverty isn't a problem if it means we can get financial support from abroad," he said. The reasons behind this departure wave are more historical than that.
Despite the U.N. recognizing Samoa as an impoverished state, Samoans aren't truly poor. This is due to the bylaws of the German Empire in the Pacific. Yet what was once considered a blessing is slowly turning into a curse.
The Samoa Treaty, which split the island between Germany and the U.S., settled the dominion race between the German Empire, the U.S. and the British Empire at the end of the 19th century. The latter, who wasn't happy with the treaty, encouraged Samoans to sell their lands to the British. The Germans implemented a land-selling ban in response.
What it means is that the large majority — 80% — of the land in Samoa is now owned by its village communities. Every Samoan is allowed to use the land but can't mortgage or sell it. Each clan is thus guaranteed a house on a decent plot of land, where they can rear pigs and cattle. Everyone also has access to the sea.
Essentially, all Samoans have a roof over their head, and can grow and catch their own food. But that also means that very few people own moveable wealth. They are, therefore, not used to cash. Wages are paid every two weeks to avoid the spending of a one-month wage in one go. "But most of the time, people are broke beforehand," said a civil servant. Samoans can't get loans due to these German laws — they would have to own land to obtain one.
This makes it impossible to open a small business venture on the island, and flee the constraints of the village community.
An island kept far from modernity
As a result, more Samoans now live abroad than on Samoa itself. Many live in New Zealand, another former colonial master, but there are also large Samoan communities in Australia and the U.S. People leave because of the shortage of job prospects on the island, beyond agricultural work. Without the money these Samoans living abroad send back home — and many have done so for generations — the island would not be able to survive.
It completely depends on imports. There is no national electrical grid, as electricity is produced by diesel generators whose fuel needs to be imported. "Samoa imports 20 times as much as it exports," said Hans-Joachim Keil, a former Minister for Economy, Trade and Tourism. Taxes, tourism income and the money sent home by Samoans abroad pay for these imports.
Exports, on the other hand, are restricted to the natural resources available: fish, fruit juices, medical plants and coconut oil. The island cannot rely on tourism alone to boost its finances — its location, within the island maze of the South Pacific, is extremely remote. Only two cruise ships dock in Apia, Samoa's capital, every week. There is an average of just 14 direct flights connecting the island to the rest of the world. And unfortunately, there is nothing to distinguish Samoa from other South Pacific Island nations. Tourists don't make the detour to visit.
Without financial aid from international organizations and loans from wealthier countries — particularly New Zealand — Samoa would never stay afloat.
The laws created by Germans to protect Samoa seem to now worsen the island's problems. This could not, of course, have been foreseen. But even though Samoans still hold their German heritage in high esteem, it prevents them from competing with surrounding countries. The Fa’a Samoa may still be a part of the island's identity, it doesn't erase its necessity for modern life.
Hospital CEO in American Samoa at odds with board
The former American Samoa hospital CEO, says his sacking was due to irreconciliable differences with the board.
Last week, Joseph Davis-Fleming was served with a termination letter after he was found to be unfit to continue.
He was appointed to the role in April last year.
The board gave Mr Davis-Fleming a chance to resign first.
Mr Davis-Fleming says his work and efforts to turn the LBJ Hospital around for the better started to take a downward turn when the former LBJ board chairperson Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young left the board.
Two Samoas in visa fees stand-off
APIA, Samoa --- Samoa and American Samoa appear to be in a stand off to see who blinks first about immigration fees both countries had apparently promised to remove during the recent inter-Samoa talks held in Apia.
Asked if the fees on Samoan citizens entering the territory had been removed, American Samoa’s Attorney General, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, said “no.”
On the outcome statement of the meeting, however, “both sides agreed to look at removing all permit fees to allow for free travel between the two Samoas.”
The fees in question are for the 14-day permit and the 30-day permit to enter American Samoa.
So has the American Samoa Government considered removing all permit fees as stated in the official report?
Talauega explained that “Samoa is considering waiving all their fees that target only American Samoans.”
He pointed out “the fee we offer that applies to Samoan citizens only is the 14-day permit.”
He explained that this was put in place to facilitate travel between the Samoas for Samoan fa’alavalave (family obligations) and other emergencies.
Citizens of Samoa are the only travellers to American Samoa who can qualify for this permit — which is cheaper than the 30-day permit.
As for fees charged by Samoa, he said Samoa charges the $10 fee to American Samoans (U.S. Nationals) only.
“No one else in the world that enters Samoa is charged this fee,” said Talauega.
Talauega further told Samoa News that the Samoan government also charges a $50 transit fee, which he understands targets only American Samoans.
“I am told that this fee has been removed but it is unclear, since airlines are now charging these fees on behalf of the Samoa government,” said the Attorney General.
He noted that if the Samoa government charges a fee that singles out only American Samoans “we want it removed.
“If they charge a fee that applies across the board to citizens of all countries that’s okay, we’ll pay. The American Samoa Government is prepared to do the same thing.”
During a press conference last month, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said Samoa was waiting for American Samoa so that the process of removing fees could begin.
“The problem is that there are certain issues that American Samoans have limited authority over, given they have to see if this is in line with federal laws.”
He said American Samoa has yet to come to a conclusion because they have to look at federal laws prior to giving a concrete answer.
Tuilaepa said during that press conference that this is the “problem” with the Samoa talks— there are issues where American Samoa has limited power over.
He said ASG asked Samoa to give them two weeks to get back to Samoa on this particular issue.
Asked if the Samoa government had waived their entry fee for US Nationals along with the transit fee, Tuilaepa said “not yet.”
Further he reminded that “the only reason we imposed the entry fee and transit fee [in the first place] was because they (American Samoa) charged and increased the fee for the 14-day permit.”
Talauega does not share the same opinion.
“As you may recall from the report of the meeting, ASG offered to waive our fee for the 14-day permit if Samoa agrees to waive their entry fee which targets only American Samoans.
“Samoa did not commit but agreed to consider waiving their entry fee.
“We have not received word from Samoa yet. We remain willing to proceed but will not waive our fee unless Samoa reciprocates.
“We made a firm offer. They wanted to think about it. We await their response.”
In 2006 Former Attorney General, the late Sialega Malaetasi Togafau had increased the cost of entry permits for Samoa citizens: From US$10 to US$40 for the 30-day permit, and US$10 for the 14-day permit which had been free.
This move did not sit well with Tuilaepa, who then moved for “American Samoans only” to pay an entry permit of USD$10- 40 depending on the length of their stay in Samoa — in addition to a WST$50 transit fee.
RSE cap increases to 9000
23 July 2014
By Tupuola Terry Tavita
The New Zealand-Pacific Islands seasonal worker scheme (RSE) will increase its intake by a thousand more workers to 9000 this year.
The announcement by New Zealand Immigration Minister Hon. Michael Woodhouse this afternoon during the 8th annual RSE conference here at the James Cook Hotel in Wellington was received with much applause by Pacific Island government representatives, New Zealand farm owners and RSE officials.
According to Minister Woodhouse, though there is a preference to recruit unemployed New Zealanders to its fledgling horticulture and viticulture industry, the continued profitability of the industry has become reliant on RSE Pacific Island workers.
“The industry is not only expanding but diversifying to other fruits and products, so the need for Pacific Island workers under the RSE scheme to meet harvest demands and market deadlines simply cannot be overlooked,” he said.
Delivering the keynote address at the capacity revenue, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the scheme – now in its 8th year – has been both a boon for New Zealand employers and Pacific Island economies.
“The RSE work policy has been a win-win situation not just for employers being provided with a ready access to a reliable and stable seasonal workforce resulting in significant productivity gains and improvements to harvest quality but also for the worker in gaining the important work, ethical and commercial skills. Along with the money they will bring home with them, it will greatly improve the quality of life and standard of living in their communities back in the islands."
The Prime Minister said that government and the local RSE office will continue to push to recruit more Samoan workers under the scheme and to set up commercial programmes at home to take advantage of the skills and experience returning workers bring with them.
“Presently, Samoa’s focus is not only about strengthening the uptake of workers to enable more of our able men and women to gain seasonal employment, but also to leverage the benefits of RSE policy by working across government and the business community on business enterprise ventures for returning workers.”
On the event that some of the workers will acquire permanent residence in New Zealand under the quota scheme, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said his government is not at all concerned.
“It’s a fact of life that you continue to lose your talented individuals to other countries. New Zealand loses its skilled workers to Australia and Australia too to other parts of the developed world every year. Pacific Island countries like Samoa are no different.
“In our case, even if our skilled people move overseas and work there, they still send home millions in remittances that contribute enormously to the development of their families and the national economy.”
One statistic, the Prime Minister said he was happy about, is the significant reduction of incidents involving Samoa workers this year.
“Good behavior and abstaining from alcohol is a key issue I have been hammering into our workers from day one. In order for the programme to succeed and employ more of our people, they have to work hard, behave themselves on the farms and stay out of trouble.”
At the conclusion of his address, the Prime Minister invited the RSE participants to hold their 9th conference in Apia next year.
“As employers, you need to know where your workers are from, but most importantly, where and what the money that you are paying them is being used for.
“There is a little rugby match in Apia around July next year involving the famous All Blacks and a little-known team called Manu Samoa, hopefully played at midday under the burning tropical sun. It would be good to schedule your meeting in Apia around that time. It will certainly be a lot warmer than cold and blustery Wellington."
Some facts about the RSE scheme.
• Since its inception in 2007, approximately 7000 Samoan workers have been recruited under the scheme. It accounts for up to eight percent of formal employment every year,
• Up to July, 1153 Samoan workers have been recruited this year,
• The RSE scheme is estimated to contribute $20 million tala to the local economy every year.
Samoa PM announces All Blacks date
New Zealand are set to play an historic Test against Samoa in Apia next year, according to the Samoan prime minister, but the All Blacks have yet to publicly confirm the news.
Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, said that he had received a confirmation letter from New Zealand Rugby and the fixture would go ahead on July 8, just days after the scheduled Super Rugby final.
The New Zealand Herald reported earlier this month that Samoa would host the All Blacks in a Test for the first time in 2015, as part of both teams' Rugby World Cup preparations. The newspaper reported that the respective unions had reached an agreement to stage the match in late July after the Super Rugby season, which next year will run through June due to the absence of European visiting tours in a World Cup season.
New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew said later in a statement that he "would very much like to take a match to Samoa" but the union had only "completed positive initial talks about the prospect of an All Blacks-Samoa Test with sponsors and the International Rugby Board, who had committed early support".
"Once we have worked these through, we would then be in a position to talk to Samoa Rugby," he said. "It's fair to say that a 2015 Test is a possibility. However, until we've worked through those important aspects, we're not in a position to confirm anything."
Tew and New Zealand Rugby have not responded to Tuilaepa's announcement of the July 8 fixture.
The teams have played each other in five Tests - all in New Zealand - but have not met since 2008. New Zealand Rugby has come under increasing pressure to play fixtures in the Pacific islands to support their neighbouring unions and to pay homage to the heritage of many All Black players.
The All Blacks are yet to play in Samoa, Fiji or Tonga, but they played Japan in Tokyo en route to Europe last year and New Zealand Rugby recently announced a Test against the United States in Chicago this year - a match that the Samoa Observer described as a "shameful Samoa snub".
Tew said in March "the reality for us is … we have to do what's best for New Zealand rugby, and playing an All Blacks Test match in the islands just doesn't suit our program". But the union has come under pressure for its stance since it revealed that it had made a $NZ850,000 (£430,000) profit from the one-off Test against Japan in front of 27,000 spectators in Tokyo last year.
US Rugby is reported to have paid New Zealand Rugby $US1 million (£580,000) to cover their costs with regards to the coming Chicago Test, for which more than 40,000 tickets are already thought to have been sold. By comparison, the Apia Park ground that would host the All Blacks in Samoa has a capacity of just 15,500
The All Blacks have played only 14 Tests against their Pacific neighbours - none before the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, and none after the 2011 tournament - and the announcement of the Chicago Test against the United States re-ignited the issue on the public agenda in New Zealand.
Popular television host John Campbell began a campaign to pressure New Zealand Rugby to send the All Blacks to Apia, and he presented his current affairs show Campbell Live live from North Harbour Stadium ahead of the Blues v Sharks Super Rugby match to start a petition for the All Blacks to play in Samoa. The #ABsToSamoa hashtag subsequently gained popular support on Twitter.
Teen Pilot on Around-World Flight Found Dead in Samoa
The body of an Indiana teenage pilot attempting to fly around the world with his father was found off the coast of American Samoa after their single-engine plane crashed in the South Pacific Tuesday night, Coast Guard officials and family said Wednesday. Haris Suleman, 17, was found unresponsive by the American Samoa Marine Patrol, while his father, Babar Suleman, remained missing, officials said. The father and son had left Pago Pago, American Samoa, and were headed for Hawaii, where they were expected to stay a couple of days before leaving for California, family and friends said. They planned to arrive in California on Friday before flying home to Indiana.
Haris Suleman, who just earned his pilot's license in June, was aiming to become the youngest pilot in command to circumnavigate the globe in 30 days with just one other person on board. He was also trying to raise money to build schools in his father’s native Pakistan. The Sulemans left Indianapolis on June 19, and were nearing the final leg of their trip. The pair spoke with NBC News prior to their journey. The elder Suleman, who began flying in 2001, said he and his son had taken survival courses and planned for potential dangers. "He’s at the age where there's no fear of the unknown," Babar said.
"The Coast Guard would like to express our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Sulemans," said Michael Cobb, command duty officer at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu, on Wednesday evening. "We will continue to do our best to locate Mr. Babar Suleman."
Ngati Kahungunu-Samoa ties revived in New Zealand
Talks between the Samoan Government and Ngati Kahungunu are the first Samoa has had directly with any iwi about potential economic partnerships, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, says.
Mr Tuilaepa spent Thursday and yesterday in Hawke's Bay as part of an eight-day visit to New Zealand.
His time in the region included visiting fruit-growing and seafood businesses, and being hosted to a hangi lunch at the home of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana yesterday.
He also met iwi staff to discuss Samoa and Ngati Kahungunu's shared interest in the seafood business and their potential to work together on other initiatives.
"Certainly we [Samoa] are in a central position so strategically if we could identify an area of mutual interest for investment I think that would be very good, not only in fisheries but also other possibilities - tourism, hotels, industry.
"I think there are a lot of opportunities there in the tourism sector," Mr Tuilaepa said.
The talks with Ngati Kahungunu were the type of discussion the Samoan Government generally had with the private sector "but I think this is the first time we are talking to an iwi as a group in New Zealand", he said.
"It is very exciting because it is quite a different approach in the sense of the government and iwi as an investment group, with cultural connotations."
During the meeting at Ngati Kahungunu's Hastings offices, Mr Tomoana talked about the links between Samoa and the iwi, along with his personal family connections.
Ngati Kahungunu's waka, Takitimu, is said to have been built in Samoa 1200 years ago before embarking on its journey to New Zealand, via several other Pacific islands.
Mr Tomoana's mother, June, arrived by "banana boat" from Samoa as a child 80 years ago.
Mr Tomoana joked with the Samoan delegation that it was good for the iwi to finally meet up "after 1200 years".
"As part of the Pacific, Ngati Kahungunu and Takitimu have been talking for a long time about rekindling the Hawaiki nation.
"And more than just culture and politics - there is the economic side to it, too," he said.
Ties between Hawke's Bay and Samoa included seasonal migrant workers employed in the region's orchards, he said.
"Ngati Kahungunu are ready to trade with our Pacific brothers and sisters.
"Every year we get 500-plus Samoan and 5000 Pacific Islanders through our area. There are opportunities for us. There are opportunities in hosting and support services in a whole lot of areas."
Mr Tuilaepa, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, said the nation was excited about the recently confirmed first test between his country and the All Blacks, to be played next year.
"True to the excellent principle of reciprocity, when we come here and the All Blacks make us play in the freezing weather, we are going to reciprocate by making them play at 12 o'clock in our heat. It is how rugby is played amongst friends," he said.
He said the match would be a useful experience for the All Blacks just ahead of the next Rugby World Cup, because the world champions had suffered in the past from playing "softer teams" earlier on in the competition, meaning they were not prepared when it came to serious competition.
"I'm quite sure the All Blacks would like a tough Manu Samoa-All Blacks game because only a few weeks after that we will have the World Cup," he said.
Questioning of Samoa police commissioner continues
The suspended Samoa police commissioner says none of the officers involved in the case of a Nigerian man, who was illegally detained and assaulted by police, were charged over the matter.
William Okoro was deported from Samoa in 2011 after he was awarded more than 120,000 US dollars in damages after he brought a lawsuit in the Supreme Court.
An inquiry into the case recommended that the officers involved be charged.
But a commission of inquiry investigating a breach of duties and lack of public confidence in the police commissioner, Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo, heard yesterday that none had been charged.
Lilomaiava admitted that officers did not perform their duties well, but said they couldn't be charged because they couldn't be investigated more than 12 months since the incident had happened.
There was also evidence police officers had taped Mr Okoro's mouth and tied his hands before he boarded a flight, and Lilomaiava accepted the Commission's concerns about a breach of human rights.
Dangerous Leone Bridge Disappoints Locals In Samoa
By Ilia L. Liko
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 20, 2013) – They came with their "long lenses" and took a lot of photos but a year later, there is still no sign of action at the Leone Bridge in Samoa.
The bridge was one of many infrastructure assets damaged by Cyclone Evan last year.
A business woman living nearby, Anita Wilson, is one of those residents disappointed at the continuing failure by government to rebuild the bridge.
"I am not sure what those public servants are doing when they come here carrying their cameras around, taking photos and doing surveying all year round– but where is their plan now?"
The bridge appears intact but strong flood waters stripped away earth supporting each end, leaving it too dangerous for heavy traffic.
"After cyclone Evan, they started appearing with all these long lenses on their cameras, but it seems like they only surveyed Leone Bridge for plans to construct other bridges," said Ms. Wilson.
"This is sick, we don’t want photographers we want engineers to rebuild and construct the bridge."
She said that it has been nearly a year of waiting since the bridge was initially damaged.
"I am a business woman and it has slowed down money our family gets from customers, and I am not just talking about myself, but the rest of those people around this area."
"As you can see, those are the logs that have been lying there since then. It is like ‘golden logs’ in memory of cyclone Evan," she said.
Instead of carrying customers bringing money, the damaged bridge is now attracting youth bringing booze.
She said the youth of Leone and other nearby villages use the area as a drinking place.
"Who knows, they’re probably smoking marijuana and will end up doing bad stuff."
She recalls that at least one bus got stuck under their neighbour’s mango tree when they tried to turn around, not realising the road was blocked.
"It was very lucky there was no one, not even children walking around the area."
"That was not the only accident that has happened since the bridge closed," she said.
An email asking for comments, sent to the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Manua’lesagalala Enokati Posala was not responded to at press time last night.
His secretary said that the Minister was attending an inspection with the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
American Samoa warn against Bumble Bee
American Samoa's governor has warned that a deal between the Samoan government and a United States company to set up a fish loin plant in Apia will cast economic uncertainty over the territory.
Lolo Matalasi Moliga says while there are bright hopes for the territory's economy with the tuna industry and fisheries doing well, the MOU signed between Bumble Bee and the Samoan Government is a threat.
He also says bold investments in fisheries development by China and European countries threaten the competitive advantage of American Samoa's canneries and place them on an unstable footing.
He says mandatory minimum wage hikes that apply to American Samoa need to be halted as a safeguard to the viability of the fisheries in the territory.
Starkist Samoa expects to resume operations this week
Dongwon Industries-owned Starkist Samoa has been approved by the the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) to resume production, however, the canner has not resumed operations yet.
Starkist Samoa received a nullification notice on July 8 from the AS-EPA to cancel a stop order notice for harbor pollution.
The stop order, issued on July 3, asked to immediately cease and desist from operating the Starkist cannery due to a broken wastewater pipe that caused an underwater discharge into Pago Harbor in American Samoa.
Starkist stopped production when the stop order was issued and, since then, operations have not been resumed.
A Starkist Samoa spokesperson said the company expects to be back in production this week.
In the meantime, Starkist Samoa is working to prevent recurrence.
“We are taking advantage of this downtime to put long-term improvements to our waste-handling system in place to prevent recurrence, as well as complete a number of plant maintenance items to improve our production processes,” a spokesperson told Undercurrent News.
The nullification notice was issued after the body verified and confirmed that the ruptured pipe had been repaired.
“[Starkist management] was very responsive as soon as they were alerted of the discharge in the Pago harbor,” AS-EPA director Ameko Pato told Samoa News.
Samoan students given shot at NASA backed robot building contest
Samoa is taking a bigger stride into the New Zealand market with the opening of the new SAME Buy Samoa Made Trade Exhibition centre being opened in Auckland next week.30 July 2014
Samoa opens a new Trade Exhibition centre in Auckland – 6 August 2014
Samoa is taking a bigger stride into the New Zealand market with the opening of the new ‘SAME – Buy Samoa Made’ Trade Exhibition centre being opened in Auckland next week.
The Samoa Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo will officially launch the new initiative on Wednesday 6 August 2014 at 4pm, at the iconic Samoa House in Karangahape Road, Auckland.
More than 50 of Samoa’s product samples and services will be on show as part of an initiative to increase exports to New Zealand. The Trade Exhibition Centre will have brochures, a revolving promotional DVD of all the businesses on display and samples in glass display cabinets. It will be located inside the Consular Office of Samoa House.
Included are the latest products and services developed in Samoa; wine and liqueurs, palusami, chocolate, chilli sauce, taro, nonu juice, cocoa, bottled water, snacks and chips, beer and coconut cream, to fashion, freight and shipping, IT, manufacturing and communications.
A highly successful promotion and marketing campaign ‘Buy Samoa Made’ in November last year led by S.A.M.E President Tagaloa Eddie Wilson and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, resulted in higher export earnings for products and services and “compelling feedback” in support of a permanent presence in New Zealand.
Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Lauofo said in the Samoa Observer recently, the Exhibition Centre was one of the key outcomes from the Buy Samoa Made Trade Show. The centre will bring together consumers, retailers, importers, distributors and increases opportunities for export earnings.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, was also quoted as saying the venture also met the top three outcomes and strategies for the Strategy for Development of Samoa (S.D.S) 2012 – 2016 pushing towards economic stability, revitalizing agriculture and exports.
Samoa police to trap stray dogs in Apia
The police in Samoa say they will trap dogs in the capital ahead of the Small Islands Developing States conference in September.
The traps will be in public places, with the public being warned that every non-registered dog will be taken to Vaitele.
It's the second phase of the dog registration scheme, a key aspect of preparations for the large-scale meeting.
This comes a month after the Dog Registration law was passed, leading to hundreds of animals being registered and given collars.
Our correspondent says any captured animal will be fed for four days while awaiting owners to claim them and pay for their registration.
Samoa woman guilty of passport fraud in US.
A woman from Samoa has pleaded guilty to passport fraud at the federal court in Fairbanks in Alaska, USA, and will be sentenced later this year.
The guilty plea by Maualuga Leaana was made yesterday under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors have in turn recommended that the court dismiss the remaining charges of nine counts of false claims of being a U.S. citizen and one count of aggravated identify theft.
The federal prosecutor, Thomas Bradley, says that Leaana has admitted to applying for a US passport using another name and falsely claiming nationality in American Samoa, when, in fact, she was born in Samoa.
Leaana faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 US dollars.
American Samoa warns about illness outbreak
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — American Samoa is issuing a health alert after about 100 people went to the territory's only hospital with symptoms similar to Dengue fever.
The Department of Health and LBJ Medical Center officials say they detected an illness outbreak among people on the main island of Tutuila having fever, rash and joint pain in the past two weeks.
Health Director Motusa Tuileama Nua says the outbreak may be from mosquito-spread diseases in the South Pacific.
The alert says the diseases can cause complications including bleeding, paralysis and death.
Those who develop fever and body aches with or without a rash are directed to seek medical attention.
The alert prompted a media campaign Tuesday urging those who are ill to stay indoors in air conditioning, behind screens or under bed nets.
American Samoan death linked to fever outbreak
The LBJ Hospital and Department of Health in American Samoa are awaiting lab results of blood samples before determining the death of a 28 year old man.
There are suspicions the cause was the acute fever rash disease, which appears to be spreading in the territory.
The Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua, says the man's blood samples, as well as those of 23 others affected, have been sent off-island for testing and it will take up to two weeks before the results are known.
The samples will be tested in Hawai'i for dengue fever and then at the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta to be analysed for chikungunya, Zika and Ross River Virus.
The man was seen at the LBJ hospital with fever and body aches and his lab results were normal, prompting doctors to send him home.
However he returned days later with fever and body aches and a low platelet or blood cell count.
The man died on Friday.
Hiring freeze for American Samoa Power Authority
The American Samoa Power Authority is putting a freeze on all hiring for the rest of the year.
The Authority says the move is in response to governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga's call on the board to decrease personnel costs and reduce the cost of electricity by five percent by the end of the year.
Samoa News reports the Power Authority's executive director, Utu Abe Malae, as saying the board has taken up the governor's challenge.
He says except for hard to fill positions such as engineers and technicians, no staff will be hired for the rest of the year, and incentives will be offered for early retirement of eligible employees.
The company has also tightened disciplinary actions to include dismissal for employees who are guilty of stealing water or power from the government, or testing positive for illicit drugs.
Embattled Samoa prison head resigns
The head of Samoa's Tafaigata prison, Assistant police commissioner, Sala Seaga Uili Lafaele, has resigned as a commission of inquiry resumes.
The inquiry had been investigating allegations of misuse of power and corruption involving the suspended police commissioner, Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo, and Sala.
Both men were yesterday given options to resign or to proceed with an extension of the inquiry.
Lilomaiava has elected to continue but Sala told the inquiry that he had resigned.
Japan donates 20 buses for Samoa SIDS conference
Japan has followed China in assisting Samoa by donating 20 buses for next month's United Nations Small Islands Developing States conference.
Japan has followed China in assisting Samoa by donating 20 buses for next month's United Nations Small Islands Developing States conference.
The buses, worth about 900,000 US dollars, were given by Japan's Ambassador to Samoa, Kazumata Shibuta.
They will be used to transport VIPs and delegates of the SIDS conference.
Last week, trained bus drivers were put behind the wheels in a pre-conference exercise.
Two months ago, China's Ambassador handed over 15 buses to Samoa's prime minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
Samoa minister denies charges of Theft & Fraud
Samoa's Associate Minister of Trade, Commerce and Industry, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, has denied four charges including theft, fraud, and falsifying accounts.
Some 30 thousand US dollars is alleged to have been involved, with the complainant the Grand Oceania Company which is involved in business dealings with the minister.
The warrant of arrest issued against Muagututagata last Monday has been withdrawn and he is on bail, with the trial to go ahead from the 10th of November.
The latest charges follow the minister's appearace in court on traffic offences earlier this year - on that occasion he was discharged without conviction.
Samoa hoping to move off money laundering list
The Samoa government says it will ask to be removed from a list of countries known for money laundering and weak anti-terror laws.
The Asia Pacific Group will meet in China next week and will discuss a recent report suggesting Samoa's status be changed from the "enhanced follow up" category to the "regular follow up" category.
The group says Samoa has made positive progress in strengthening its security measures and the recent passing of the Counter Terrorism Act 2014.
Samoa's delegation to the meeting will be led by the Central Bank Governor, Maiava Aterina.
Samoa-US fish company M.O.U. delayed
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Samoa government and the United States based seafood company Bumble Bee has been postponed.
The US company is looking to establish a fish loin plant at Matautu wharf in Apia.
Our correspondent says media were told on Friday that the MOU needed to be polished and tidied up before it could be signed.
Samoa's prime minister, Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, has said the fish loin processing plant will create one thousand jobs and be a boost for the local economy.
He also added that Bumble Bee had brought forward their plans to proceed with the construction of its company sometime this year and not next year.
Administration aligns with chiefs on fishing waters issue
Chiefs ask for delay until public weighs in on proposed options
By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu
Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who is also acting governor, is supporting the move by the Council Of Treaty Chiefs of Tutuila, Aunu’u, and Manu’a and the Council of District Governors of American Samoa, in their opposition to the three proposed options being considered by the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council (WPRFMC) on the present 50-mile large vessel closure area (LVCA) around the fishing waters of American Samoa.
The present 50-mile LVCA area regulation restricts vessels that are more than fifty feet long from harvesting catch within fifty miles of the islands. Lemanu’s support was announced during a gathering held at the Fale Samoa in Utulei, yesterday morning, which opened with a traditional ava ceremony.
As reported last week, attorney for the two councils, Marie A. Alailima, said the position taken by her clients is to keep the fifty-mile closure area in place, adding that the other two options were to reduce the LVCA and give the large vessels a greater area to harvest their fish — or remove the restriction entirely. She said the “joint statement provides three grounds for objection to all options except the option that keeps the status quo until a permanent political relationship and status with the U.S. is established that provides clarification of the marine boundary areas and marine resources that were ceded in trust for the beneficiaries of the treaties.”
During the meeting, Senator Galea’i Tu’ufuli stated that they should not rush into this matter — rather the public should be given a chance to voice their concerns and give advise. Galea’i asked for Lemanu to request that the WPRFMC delay the proposed options on the present 50-mile large vessel closure area (LVCA) around the fishing waters of the territory, until the public is given a chance to comment on this rather important subject.
Senator Soliai T. Fuimaono, said the deed of cession signed by our ancestors was to protect our lands and sea. He pointed out that there should be research conducted on the deed pertaining specifically to this issue — the agreement between the United States of America, Tutuila, Aunu’u and Manu’a.
Senator Mauga Tasi Asuega noted the issue is rather a difficult one and will bring up many other issues for Tutuila and Manu’a, but he did not elaborate on issues to which he was referring.
Original Samoan version of this story is in today’s Le Lali.
Governor Lolo M. Moliga last week wrote in a letter to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s executive director, Kitty M. Simonds covering two issues of federal expansions into American Samoa’s territorial waters, which he says are basically following the current federal trends of making decisions “without local acquiesce”. He noted that while appreciative of all efforts of the Council to promote fishery development in American Samoa, the “issue of expanding federal control over our territorial assets is rather disconcerting.”
For details of the governor’s letter, read story below.
Opposition in American Samoa to push to reduce fishing off limits
Traditional leaders in American Samoa are opposing a proposal to allow longliners to fish in territorial waters that are now off limits to them.
The Council of Treaty Chiefs of Tutuila, Aunuu and Manu'a and the Council of District Governors this week signed a petition addressed to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, opposing its plans.
The LVPA, or large vessel prohibited area, is closed to all pelagic fishing vessels longer than 15 metres.
It encompasses about a quarter of the American Samoa exclusive economic zone.
The proposal from the Management Council would shrink the northern boundary around Tutuila, Manu'a and Rose Atoll to 25 nautical miles and the LVPA around Swains to 12 nautical miles.
The petition says such a move would be in bad faith, opportunistic, and blatantly contrary to the Treaty of Cessions of Manu'a and Treaty of Tutuila and Aunu'u.
The traditional leaders say opening closed waters to allow non-beneficiary owned longliners to fish closer to the islands would undermine the interests of the beneficiaries of the Treaties.
Obama's Pacific no-fish zone questioned by U.S. fishery scientist
Radio New Zealand
A United States fishery scientist says the US President's vow to dramatically increase a no-fishing zone in the Pacific is nothing more than a gesture.
Barak Obama has declared war on illegal fishing, signalling he will use executive powers to bypass Congress to increase the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument over seven times to more than a million square kilometres.
Enoka Island, chosen for the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' retreat..
But a senior scientist with the Western and Central Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council, Paul Dalzell, says the move will hurt US fisheries more than the distant water nations that have been blamed for depleting stocks.
"It will have no conservation benefit on tunas and other highly migratory species. They move about so if they're not subject to fishing mortality in one area, they may be in another. And we just don't see this as anything more than really sort of being a gesture more than anything else."
Paul Dalzell says some areas around US territories have greatly benefited US fleets, which will be threatened by the huge expansion of the closure areas.
Samoa's farmers in the dark over new market opening
The Samoa Farmers Association says farmers are still in the dark about when the new Fugalei market building will be open for business.
The Fugalei market was demolished in 2012, with vendors in the meantime moving to privately run or make-shift markets.
The chairman of the Farmer's Association, Afamasaga Toleafoa, says it's still unclear when Fugalei will reopen, or if it will be in time for the Small Islands Developing States conference in September.
"There's absoloutely no word on that one. The farmers don't really know. I see March was mentioned, well March has come and gone, it's still a long way from being finished. It will be good for the town, for the image, it will be good for Samoa to have that ready when the SIDS meeting is here."
The chairman of the Farmer's Association in Samoa, Afamasaga Toleafoa.