Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

POWER TO BE FULLY RESTORED BY SATURDAY IN SAMOA 

By Monday morning, the Electric Power Corporation, (EPC) had restored 98% of the high voltage distribution line around Upolu almost 48 hours after Tropical Cyclone Gita devastated the Samoan group.

And by Tuesday morning, EPC should have the high voltage line restored 100% around Upolu.

The swift response by EPC to repair the high voltage will allow ground crews to work inland to re-connect power to homes which remain powerless since Saturday.

As of Monday, EPC’s General Manager Tologata Tile Leia Tuimalealiifano confirmed that electricity to 30% of the 35,000 EPC clients in Upolu has been restored. And he anticipates that by Wednesday if the pieces of puzzle fall in place, power for Upolu Island should be fully restored. However anticipating some unexpected setbacks, Tologata has guaranteed that by Saturday every home and business in Upolu and Savaii which is a customer of EPC should have electricity.

For Savaii Island, 95% of the high voltage distribution line is back on line with 30% of the 10,000 EPC customers also receiving electricity.

“All the undamaged homes have been put back on line,” said Tologata noting that the task face by EPC “to restore electricity under these conditions is a huge ask to say the least.”

“The majority of damages powerlines are from falling trees located on private property.

“And I urge families to please heed our pleas to cut down trees near powerlines because this is what happens every time we have gusty winds,” noted Tologata.

“Despite the dangerous weather conditions during the pre- Tropical Cyclone Gita, EPC crew has been on the ground as late as 2:00am in the morning and supporting staff which includes the 200 plus EPC staff have been working 24-7.

“As you know, I’m not the kind of person that toots his own horn, but I have to commend my staff for the dedication.

“Like some of our residents, many have families who were also affected by the Cyclone but they have been working non-stop, some since Friday to ensure that electricity is restored as soon as possible.”

(Source:  Samoa Press Secretariat)

NO CYCLONE LOOMING

Unofficial forecasts predicting another Tropical Cyclone to follow in the heels of Gita are not true and have no substance, the Chief Weather Officer Mulipola Ausitalia Titimaea has ruled out.

Social media reports suggest that a second Cyclone will affect the Samoan group within the next 48 hours — which started Sunday morning.

However Mulipola has discounted the prediction saying there is no cyclone looming or immediately threatening Samoa.

He says that his international counterparts including Fiji are also mystified with the claim.

“The current poor weather conditions will continue for the next few days with sporadic heavy rains and gusty winds at times,” he added. “The only active conversion posing a threat to Samoa is developing near the Solomon Island and Vanuatu and we are in no immediate danger.

“My office as always is closely monitoring it,” he continued. “But as for another Cyclone following the same tracks as Gita and threaten or affect Samoa in the new day is all hearsay.”

Mulipola noted that this is not the first time that unofficial weather predictions has caused public panic.

And he reiterates for the public to heed the weather advisories from his office and nothing else.

(Samoa News notes this is the same advice from American Samoa’s Weather Bureau — to heed their weather advisories only, as they have different terminology from their Samoa and Fiji counterparts, as well as a different approach to weather advisories.

(Source:  Samoa Press Secretariat)

SNPF BENEFITS AVAILABLE FOR SAMOA RSE

SNPF deductions for the 565 Samoans employed by Mr Apple under the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Workers, (aka RSE) will commence before the end of February 2018.

In Hawkes Bay last week, Minister of Labor Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell leading a government delegation and Mr Apple officials entered a pact for Mr. Apple to apply automatic deductions from the Samoan RSE workers’ wages for their SNPF contributions.

And other RSE Employers with Samoa workers are receptive to the initiative from Apia, says Chief Executive Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling.

Other delegation members include Auckland based Trade Commissioner Dr Fonoti Fuatai, Lemalu Nele Leilua, Samoa RSE Liaison Officer and Fuatino Taituuga Savaiinaea with MCIL’s Employment Unit.

The initiative will guarantee the Samoa workers will be entitled to benefits from the Samoa National Provident Fund, (SNPF) which includes a death benefit of $5,000 tala not to mention the annual dividend of not less than 4% as mandated by law.

Government is also planning an re-integration initiative to create new business creation opportunities for RSE workers or life after RSE.  The incentive is for RSE workers to be eligibly for financing from the Small Business Enterprise Center or the Development Bank of Samoa to start a business after their temporary employment in New Zealand.

 Consequently, throughout this week, Lautafi and his delegation have been visiting RSE Employers and their Samoan workers in the Hawkes Bay Region, Nelson and Tauranga.

And the employers are singing praises of their Samoan workers, according to Employment Officer Savaiinaea. “Our Samoan workers are highly ranked and praised by their respective employers.

She added, “Our workers’ performance is among the best.”

Introduced in 2007, the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Employer scheme allows eligible Pacific workers to undertake seasonal work (in planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops) for an approved employer in the horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand.

Workers can stay in New Zealand for up to seven months in any eleven-month period (although actual times can vary depending on the employer). The RSE scheme was developed to give the industry a more reliable source of Pacific workers from year to year.

New Zealand employers must go through an accreditation process to achieve RSE status and they need to demonstrate a commitment to recruiting and training New Zealanders before looking for workers from overseas.

A limit of 10,500 RSE places is available each year — with the number of places available for Pacific workers varying depending on the forecast of New Zealand workers available and industry demand.

The RSE scheme has strengthened relationships between New Zealand and Samoa with Samoa currently the third largest country sending workers to New Zealand.

Samoa was and is still the third biggest sending country for RSE with over 1,600 Samoans on the RSE payroll compared to 600 plus ten years ago.

(Source:  Samoa Press Secretariat)

SQA TO VALIDATE FOREIGN QUALIFICATIONS

Employers and other members of the public who need to confirm the authenticity of foreign qualifications can seek assistance through the Samoa Qualifications Authority (SQA). The SQA — Foreign Qualifications Recognition Service (FQRS) examines foreign qualifications whether they are genuine and recognised in the country of award. It also determines the comparability of such qualification levels to the Samoa Qualifications Framework (SQF).  

The development of the Foreign Qualifications Recognition Service is a response by SQA to the need to verify qualifications and various certificates obtained outside of Samoa’s national border. The  increase in student and worker mobility across national and international borders has also affected Samoa. Having a foreign qualification assessed and recognised assures employers and other stakeholders that it is authentic, quality assured and the person holding such a qualification can fulfill relevant employment expectations.

While it is not mandatory for employment or study in Samoa to have SQA validation of  qualifications, it has been recommended in a recent review of  FQRS that SQA works together with the Immigration Department, Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (MCIL) and PSET providers to establish a framework for collaboration in the granting of study visas and work permits.

The outcome of the FQRS assessment will assist employers in the hiring of workers with genuine and quality assured qualifications. It may also enable the employer to make an evaluation on effective deployment and re-deployment of employees into areas better suited to their qualifications and skills.

Being part of the global environment; there have also been fraudulent qualifications presented in Samoa obtained by dubious means or issued by bogus universities, degree mills and other spurious training providers.

(Source:  Samoa Press Secretariat)

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