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Economy “not too bad,” Samoa PM Tuilaepa assures

Samoa’s economy is “not doing too bad at all.”That’s the assurance from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi amidst growing concerns about the impact of the deteriorating world economy on Samoa.“Samoa is doing quite well,” Tuilaepa said.The Prime Minister issued the assurance during his opening address for the Leadership Samoa Economic and Private Sector Development Seminar at Hotel Millennia, yesterday.In presenting the history of Samoa’s economic policy development, the Prime Minister said the country has come a long way in terms of “reshaping” the economy.He said many international organisations have labeled Samoa as the “shining star of the Pacific” because of its economic reforms.“Against all external shocks – cyclones, tsunami, and the global financial crisis – Samoa has demonstrated resilience,” he said. “This is largely the result of having built a solid platform for economic development over the years. Today our economy is not doing too bad at all.”Inflation has dropped from 6.2 per cent in June to 4.8 per cent. The Bureau of Statistics estimates Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 1.3 per cent. Real GDP is estimated to be a total of about $1.5 billion. Further, foreign reserves total $366.8 million.Tuilaepa said the economy today is much better than when the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) came into power. He said there was literally zero foreign reserves.In the early 1980s, Tuilaepa said the economy was in a “real mess.”The inflation rate was running at double digits – 25 to 30 per cent per annum, the foreign exchange reserve was literally at zero, the budget deficit was huge and unsustainable, unemployment was widespread and the Government was bankrupt, he said.The gloomy situation caused the Government to rethink its strategy to get Samoa out of trouble, the Prime Minister said. This meant implementing a programme of reforms necessary to put everything in order.“The government had to make hard and bold decisions – even if it meant hurting people along the way.”Samoa published its first strategic plan called the Statement of Economic Strategy (SES) during the late 1990s with the primary goal of supporting the private sector as the driver of economic growth.That new plan saw the shift away from multi-year long-term plans. Members of the public were also invited to contribute to the reshaping of the economy.