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Pacific News Briefs

Secretary of Commerce highlights efforts to cut red tape. [courtesy photo]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomed Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s statement on the Department of Commerce’s major emphasis on reducing regulations and the progress that has already been made, especially his mention of preventing unnecessary fishing restrictions.

“Fishing is important to American Samoa’s economy and provides jobs, but more than that, it is a traditional way of life for many,” Aumua Amata said. “I’m pleased that the Secretary of Commerce recognizes possibilities for improvements to fishing rules, and I welcome his efforts to reduce unnecessary red tape.”

Congresswoman Amata attended the Commerce Department event, titled “Cut the Red Tape: Eliminating Regulation to Create Jobs and Growth”.

In his remarks highlighting the hundreds of rules that have already been reduced since January, and other rules that will continue to be reviewed, the Secretary specifically mentioned the need for flexibility on some rules regarding fisheries.

“Federal rules serve a purpose and some rules will always exist, but we want policies that encourage profitable, responsible fishing and understand the long traditions in places like American Samoa,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “American Samoa depends on small businesses and fishing, and both could use relief from excessive regulation.”

(Source: Congresswoman Aumua Amata's Office, Washington, D.C.)


The decision is final. 

The former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, will not be granted an extension of their diplomatic passports.

This was confirmed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is also the Minister of Immigration. Tuilaepa rejected reports that his administration had decided to reconsider the decision. He said this is not a matter to be decided by Cabinet. 

“This comes under longstanding policies put in place in accordance with the United Nation laws,” he said. “Passports are important travel documents that must be utilized in a careful manner.

“What I mean is that people nowadays are using fake passports to enter countries with the intention of committing a crime,” The Prime Minister said. “That is why when it comes to passports, all the details on it must be accurate, because if the details are incorrect the punishment is hefty if one is convicted,”

Tuilaepa pointed out this is not the first time they have dealt with issues pertaining to diplomatic passports. 

“It’s not only (Tui Atua) Tupua who has sought a diplomatic passport. There were other former Ministers and Members of Parliament who had also requested for diplomatic passports.

 “The passports are government property and the passport goes with your role at the time.

 “However once you’re no longer occupying the position, you go back to using an ordinary passport because you are again an ordinary person.

“You cannot use a diplomatic passport indicating you are the Head of State when in fact you are no longer the Head of State. If we do that, then that means we are fooling other countries.”

Tuilaepa’s comments are in line with comments from the Head of Immigration and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo.

As reported earlier, the C.E.O. explained that the former Head of State and his wife, who held the position for ten years, had diplomatic passports during their tenure.

Once their term was up, the diplomatic passports were no longer valid.

This, he said, has been a long-standing government policy.

The C.E.O. explained that diplomatic passports are made available to relevant government officials including the Head of State, Members of the Council of Deputies, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister while they are in office. 

He said there are three types of passports.  These include the diplomatic passport, official passport and ordinary passport.

“There are regulations which govern the issuance of diplomatic passport that are mainly for government officials,” he said. 

“For example, the Head of States, Council of Deputies, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister.

“From the beginning, it is policy that once the official no longer holds the position, the government cancels the diplomatic passport.

“The reason the passport is cancelled is that it goes together with the designation,” he said.  “This same practice applies to the official passports for the C.E.O. position." 

“Once you are no longer the C.E.O. the official passport will also be cancelled. 

“This is the normal practice; once the official title is cancelled it’s likewise for the diplomatic passports. 

“This however does not apply to the regular passports, once the official passport is cancelled the regular passport is still valid which he or she can use anywhere in the world.”

(Source: Samoa Observer)


A Samoan man, in Samoa, in his late forties will be defending himself in court today against 46 charges including rape, unlawful sexual connection and indecent assault.

The defendant was successful in applying for the government to pay a lawyer.

However, yesterday, the court accepted the defense lawyer's application to withdraw as counsel because of a dispute with the defendant.

The 2015 victims of the alleged sexual offenses were girls under 16 years of age who are the youngest sisters-in-law of the accused.

The case will be presided by three men and a two women assessors in the presence of a Supreme Court judge.

(Source: RNZ)


Every year, tens of thousands of Pacific people jump at the chance to get New Zealand residency under the Pacific Access Scheme, the first version of which was set up in the 1960s to recognize the special relationship between Aotearoa and the Pacific.

The lure of better wages, healthcare and education is among the many reasons people grab a form and apply.

Over the past 15 years, roughly 500,000 Pacific Islanders have made a bid for one of the 1750 places on offer annually, in the hope of new opportunities and a better life in New Zealand. But what happens when things don't work out as planned? Especially for those who have to borrow heavily from family just to get to the "land of milk and honey"?

The quota system, which is drawn by random ballot, allows up to 75 citizens of Kiribati, 75 of Tuvalu, 250 of Tonga and 250 of Fiji to become residents.

For Samoans, their allocation is the largest, at 1100 spots, and this year a record 36,000 people registered for it.

The scheme allows citizens from five Pacific nations to rely on the luck of the draw in a ballot as to whether they'll get a chance at residency here.

Mangere MP and Labour Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Aupito William Sio, who is Samoan, says securing a suitable permanent job offer before getting here is often a big hurdle.

"When your name is drawn out, you [still] have criteria you have to meet, like health, and a key one is a job offer. Now that is problematic when the applicant is living in the islands and jobs to apply for are out here in Aotearoa New Zealand."

But there are increasing calls for more support for quota immigrants.

The Labour MP for Mangere believes more support of these clients is needed. 

“When you invite people to come here to Aotearoa New Zealand and you provide them with a process where they can come here to live permanently you want them to succeed. And therefore we have an obligation to the Pacific which is separate and distinct and different to the rest of the world, we have this obligation to ensure that when they do come that they succeed and that they don't end up on the scrap heap of unemployment or looking for unaffordable homes and therefore it becomes really important that our families looking to migrate here to NZ that they are well prepared.”

Morganan Morganan manages the Papatoetoe Budgeting and Family Services and says half of his clients are on the Pacific quota. He migrated to NZ from Fiji 18 years ago and says Pacific people are always shocked to find out how difficult it is to live here. 

Auckland University Associate professor of Development Studies, Yvonne Te Ruki-Rangi-O-Tangaroa Underhill-Sem has done significant research on development, gender and labor mobility in the region and says more could be done.

   “You know the people that carry those quota people are the communities who are here. They are the ones who offer accommodation, they are the ones who give the leads into jobs and support those on the quota. I think a lot more needs to be done but from where I sit in terms of the different models of having Pacific people coming into our region, the quota model is a good one but it doesn't have the scaffolding around it to make sure that you get successful citizens coming out of it and not another bunch of Pacific people who are in the low skilled low cost labour sector.”

The next round of Pacific quotas will open for registrations in April 2018.