“People-centred aspirations: Recovery, Inclusiveness and Resurgence”

My fellow citizens, As we gather with family and friends, I want to wish everyone a  happy New Year! This is a time for reflection and of hope, with the knowledge that brighter days are ahead of us.

Although our challenges may be numerous and tough, I know that each one of us has the courage and determination to rise up and meet them.

2021 has been a challenging year for all of us. In any crisis, it becomes all the more necessary to move forward together as a nation, and as strong, resilient people to reinforce the confidence to cooperate and collaborate towards a future we want.

The new year is upon us.

We have accepted the uncertainties that remain but we are willing to usher in a new dawn to revisit our priorities and to listen attentively to emerging demands for a better quality of life for us all. We are poised to welcome and encourage the innovation of our people and their creativity to generate solutions. We have proven crisis-resilient potential. Following the outcomes of the general elections, Cabinet though new, is committed to deliver people-centred priorities and encourage empowerment of communities.

The Financial Year 2021-2022 budget was approved, and in no time implementation began in all sectors of the economy but with the primary focus on community and social development. Social impact assessments highlighted the importance of appropriate inclusive social protection measures to cater for our vulnerable population including people with disabilities.

Government’s financial assistance to the tourism sector, business community, and a number of employees’ associations provides continuing support to help address the impacts of COVID 19. While some may consider this assistance insufficient, it is the hope that payments will serve as a primer for the recovery of people’s livelihoods. At the centre of people’s livelihoods are jobs. The government is keen to ensure that job offerings through the seasonal worker scheme of New Zealand and the labour mobility programs of Australia are made available to all communities on an equitable basis. Starkist of American Samoa
continues to recruit workers for its tuna cannery operations. This year alone has seen more than five thousand workers utilize these opportunities.

Employment and social safety nets will be strengthened further. The 20% reduction in the cost of electricity and water has come into effect and is inclusive of all users of these key utilities.
The one million Tala project for district developments is on target. Government’s intention is to cover all districts in the near future. We will ensure that the Government, residents, businesses and talented individuals in our villages and districts can collectively work to devise practical and creative development strategies.

The contact-free economy and digital innovation are gaining speed globally. In our small isolated corner of the world there is growing interest and innovativeness to take advantage of these developments. All of these can only lead towards enhanced quality of the lives of our people.
I am pleased to acknowledge with gratitude the ready support of all our development partners who have stood by us to address our priority development needs amid the crises. The principle of mutual benefit continues to build on the development cooperation.
I wish to pay tribute to our frontline workers, working tirelessly to safeguard Samoa. It is almost two years since the State of Emergency was declared for Samoa in the wake of the pandemic. So much work has been delivered to secure our borders, facilitate numerous flights and support traveller mobility for over 9,000 residents into and out of the country,
expedite vaccines access and undertaking mass vaccination campaigns, and coordination of emergency responses through partnerships.

I acknowledge the hard work of the national workforce. It has been a long and tiring year but you have indeed risen to the tasks, expectations and challenges. It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the tremendous help that has come from the Diaspora around the globe through financial assistance, in kind services and moral support for our families in Samoa.
Your contribution to the recovery of the economy is highly valued. 2022 will mark the 60 th year since we became an independent State. It will also be a year for recovery, a year for inclusiveness and a year for resurgence. It will be a time when we can gradually restore our daily lives, narrow disparities and recover the economy.

The Head of State’s Christmas message calls for unity in prayer and supplication to the Lord for Samoa. As a nation founded on God, there shall be no other way but through our unity in prayer, to seek divine guidance in our daily walk through life and what the future holds for us. When our perils are past – shall our gratitude go to sleep? Certainly not. I am happy to announce that our week of prayer and fasting will begin on Sunday, 2 nd
January until the 7 th of January, 2022.

I wish you all a peaceful, blessed and safe New Year.
Join us at the fireworks celebration to herald in 2022!