Samoa Govt pressured to lease customary land

LAND LEASE FOR DEBT: MPs Levaopolo Talitonu, Aeau Peniamina, Leader Palusalue Fa'apo II and Toesulusulu Cedric Schuster. [Samoa Observer]

The government is under pressure to lease customary land because the country owes so much money to foreign institutions.

The foreign debt is “nearly a billion tala.”

So claimed members of the Tautua Samoa Party during a press conference held at its Matautu headquarters yesterday.

The press conference was called so that members of the Opposition Party could voice their objections against the Customary Land Advisory Commission Bill 2012.

Tabled in Parliament last week, the bill proposes to allow the lease of customary land to foreign companies for economic development.

But members of the Tautua Party disagree.

A’anaAlofi No 3 MP,Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster said the Government is being dictated to lease customary land.

He said the Government is adamant to proceed with the lease because it is “trapped” and it must fulfill the requirements by foreign institutions.

Asked to name the foreign institutions, Toeolesulusulu named the Asian Development Bank as one of them.

“The government doesn’t need another Commission,” said Toesulusulu.

“The only reason why they are doing this is because it’s one of the recommendations under ADB (Asian Development Bank) for Samoa to follow.

“The government was advised by ADB in 2006 and recommended to have our customary lands leased.

“So the Commission is not for the benefit of our country, it’s done for that purpose to meet the banks conditions so we can loan some more.”

The first term MP also reminded about the arrangement of lands. He referred to distribution of lands where many acres are put aside for tourism development, others for water and environmental conservation.

“Where is the land forour children to use in the future if foreign investors take over our customary land? The next generation will be working for these foreigners.”

Felealupo MP Aeau Peniamina Leavaiseeta was quick to back his colleague.

The veteran MP explained that one or two matai shouldn’t have the right agree on a lease on behalf of the extended family.

Aeau said it should be a united decision.


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