Robinson says investments are the ‘key’ to employment and boosting economy
Former Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson is calling on the new or returning Administration after the Nov. 8 election to be “more diligent” in pursing investment that would provide job opportunities for the territory and will boost the territory’s economy.
Robinson retires this month after being involved in American Samoa for more than a decade with various matters, including as business owner, and serving on various government and private sector boards. He departs the territory the end of this month and will retire to a small town in New Zealand.
During an interview with Samoa News early last week several issues were covered. Asked for any advise for the government after the general election, Robinson said, “I think they have to be more diligent in pursing investments.”
“Investments that are going to provide employment opportunities and therefore job creation and disposable income,” Robinson said. “It’s very difficult at the present time. I mean the market here has been very poor, economically for the last few years. The population shrank, but made up a little bit after that.”
And “people are complaining and they have been complaining because there’s no growth, business is not as it used to be in stores and retail operations and things like that. So it’s getting more and more difficult here,” said Robinson who served six terms as Chamber chairman.
“So I think the administration, whether it’s a new one, or the same one, has to be very diligent in looking for economic development opportunities,” he said.
Responding to related questions on investment, Robinson said, “It will take some time... to get people to come invest here. These things always take a long time because they (investors) have to do their homework, feasibility study and things like that.”
“Even if you start today, it might take a year before anything eventuates and then there’s no guarantee at the end of that time that somebody is going to say ‘okay, its a good idea’. Or they might say, ‘sorry we’ve checked it out and it doesn’t work’,” he said, adding that Commerce Department plays a major role on these economic development and attracting investors.
Over the years, there have been people - both in the private sector, including the Chamber itself, as well as the government - who dislike Robinson because he is aggressive at times when pursing issues for the private sector and economic development. During the years he served as Chamber chairman, Robinson would make immediate contact with the Fono if he saw any pending legislation that would impact the private sector.
“A lot of people don’t like me because of the fact that they think I’m too aggressive,” Robinson said “Maybe that’s true, but I mean, you have to look at what I’ve said and what I’ve done.”
“I mean if I’m aggressive and I’m talking a lot of BS, well that’s a different story. But if I’m aggressive, and I’m talking sense, which I can back it up with facts and figures, then people have to accept the fact that my intentions are good,” he said.
Asked if he will be working with American Samoa - both public and private sector - on any issues while retiring in New Zealand, Robinson said, “I don’t think so. However, I shall still keep abreast of what’s going on here. I’ll keep an interested eye.”
However, “if the administration or if anybody here decided, they [would] like me to come along and help them out, then I will be happy to come and serve on a consultancy assignment for a while to help out,” he said. “But I’ve got a few things line up already in New Zealand.”
Robinson bid farewell to all those he worked with in both government, private sector and non-profit groups in a paid advertisement published last Friday in Samoa News, which published, since last Tuesday, interviews with Robinson covering several issues.