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Land set aside in Tonga for ASG focus of official malaga

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has tasked Human Resources Director Le’i Sonny Thompson and ASG’s Petroleum Officer, Sione Kava to travel to Tonga to find out about land given to the American Samoa government in the island kingdom, and they will be looking at the land size, logistics, requirements, permissible use, and other specifics, says Governor’s Executive Assistant Iulogologo Pereira in response to Samoa News queries.


Joining them later on this trip is Department of Commerce Director, Keniseli Lafaele.


According to Iu, the group will depart American Samoa today and will return on June 27, 2013. “It is the Governor's intention to invite local businesses who might be interested to work with local businesses in Tonga for which this land could be used. 


“Specifics will be discussed with any interested local business person,” said Iu.


It was during the first administration of the late Governor AP Lutali that land was exchanged between the governments of Tonga and American Samoa. The exchange of land is pursuant to an April 1986 Memorandum of Understanding on Principles of Economic Cooperation between the two sides.


Tonga was given a parcel of ASG land in Tafuna that has been utilized as a market to sell their goods, including Tongan agricultural produce, but the ASG land in Tonga’s capital of Nukualofa has yet to be used.


In 2006, during his tenure as Senate President, Lolo dispatched Senate staffers to look at the property. Two years later, Lolo told Samoa News that the government should utilize this property, which is located in the waterfront area of Nukualofa.


According to Iu, land in Samoa will also be ascertained on this trip, and upon returning from Tonga, Le’i, Kava and Lafaele will remain in Samoa to meet with Samoa government officials about the land “supposedly” set aside there.


“The same process will be adopted with businesses who might wish to locate facilities on Samoa. The potential for joint ventures will be addressed. The requirements for transacting business in these two countries will influence decisions on possible use of these parcels of land,” said Iu. 


During last year’s inter-Samoa talks, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and former Governor Togiola Tulafono agreed to provide for each other one acre of land to be used for setting up appropriate offices to facilitate economic integration. Samoa requested that the land in American Samoa be in Tafuna and the Samoa government set up land for American Samoa in Apia’s suburb of Vailima.


As Samoa News reported earlier, prior to leaving office before 12noon on January 3, 2013, Togiola’s office issued a news release saying that Togiola — in his final act as governor — signed the lease between Samoa and American Samoa, where a one acre property near Apia will be allocated to the Territory to set up an office.


In reciprocating, Togiola said American Samoa will provide land in Tafuna for Samoa to build its consular office, which is currently located in leased office space at the Methodist Church building in Fagatogo.


Tuilaepa said last year that having an American Samoa office in Apia will make it easy to address issues that arise in the event of an emergency. He says that having the Samoa Consulate Office in Pago Pago will do the same for Samoa's nationals in the territory.