Opposition suggestions to loan for development projects rejected by Finance Minister

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A senior Human Rights Protection Party member has appealed to the FAST government to consider more capitalism by borrowing from partners for infrastructure development projects to benefit the Samoa people but was flatly rejected by the Minister of Finance. 

Member of Parliament, Alai’asa Sepulona Moananu, expressed concerns that the current administration has halted efforts to borrow monies, yet the development in Samoa, as seen today of buildings and infrastructure, and the internet, among other projects, resulted from borrowed money. Yet it has been put on hold, but the government needs to borrow cash to complete the required infrastructure. 

Alai’asa made the comments in Parliament yesterday when deliberating the proposed budget for the new financial year for 1.08 billion tala.

Public debts at the end of March 2023 stood at $882.9 million, comprising external debt at $882.1 million and domestic debt of $0.8 million.

Government debt decreased from the previous quarter by $20.6 million. Loans to financial institutions amounted to $477.6 million, accounting for 54.2 per cent of external debt. Since 2018 the Samoa Government’s obligations have been over a billion. However, over the years, it has decreased.

Alai’asa said the mindset behind borrowing money is the ability to pay for it simultaneously, and noted that loans are needed to see through required government projects. 

This did not sit well with Minister of Finance, Mulipola Annarosa Ale-Molioo said when the FAST administration took office, public debts reached the threshold, and their government did not want to max loan debts, hence paying the loans to decrease public debts. 

Minister of Health, Valasi Tafito Selesele, said during previous terms, leaders at that time commented that loans are helpful for infrastructure and the new generations will be tasked with paying off these public debts.

Valasi said such public comments showed abuse of power for those who were leading the government at that time. Generations to come should not be burdened by reckless decisions, made by previous leaders. 

Minister of Finance, in other aspects of government loans, deliberated in Parliament, loans by the government-owned airline, Samoa Airways, are pretty significant, and efforts are underway to pay it off, including its loan of over $30 million from UTOS, whereas the government is the guarantor.