A special presentation by the Ministry of Finance was the feature of the first members meeting of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce for 2021.
Held at the Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Conference Room on Monday 1st March, monthly Chamber Members Meetings serve as a forum for business owners and the private sector, to be given an update on the
work conducted by the Chamber Executive Council and Secretariat including policy issues being addressed to government officials and the sharing of any upcoming opportunities for the business
The March Members Meeting chaired by Chamber President, Jennifer Ula-Fruean was well attended by 78 Chamber members.
Ministry of Finance, ACEO Vaetoeifaga Abigail Lee Hang shared the Government’s position towards strategising the economic recovery for Samoa, allowing an open dialogue between Chamber members and Ministry of Finance officials.
The presentation elaborated on the Government’s Stimulus Package that will be rolled out in 3 Phases over the course of 3 financial years. Phase I which was announced in April 2020 included policies towards
enabling private sector, ensuring purchasing power of the citizens, and providing social sector support.
Vaetoeifaga explained that while other economies have opted for a one-time large stimulus payouts, the Government has issued the three phase stimulus packages with the intention to create sufficient ripple effects spanning many months to ensure that the economy continues to turn, if not grow.
Moving forward, Samoa’s key development partners the International Monetary Fund have endorsed Samoa’s
recovery strategies within the short term until the Pandemic is lifted. Some of the key broad areas of this plan include having health preparedness and protection remain a priority, boost human capital and
employment creation, and ensure policies are in place to allow for import substitution and secure food suppliers for the country.
During the meeting CEO Lemauga Hobart Va’ai provided members with a policy
update focusing on private sector issues raised in the last quarter which include the challenges around the new Liquor Act. Lemauga also updated members that the Chamber is working closely with
Government stakeholders to strengthen communication channels with Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) and improve shipping service between Upolu and Savaii with the Samoa Shipping Corporation.
Lemauga announced that the Chamber will be submitting its budget submission, post election in April 2021 which references the recently completed Business Confidence
All Chamber submissions to government are evidence-based according to input from the
private sector which the Chamber uses to seek support, “not only with our Government but also partners with our Government such as IMF, ADB, World Bank also our regional donors, overseas organization and international stakeholders,” confirms Lemauga.
Given these unprecedented times, the need for private sector support was expressed by several members, as businesses continue to adapt to
the impacts of COVID-19.