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Samoa PM downplays market bruhaha

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has downplayed reports that the demolition of the Fugalei market, forcing vendors and farmers to sell their produce in the sun and rain on the streets, was done without Cabinet being consulted. “It’s a non-issue,” he told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday. “The time is right to build a better market. Why do people worry about the old market when a new one, a better one, is about to be built?” The Prime Minister’s opinion was sought after a source told the Samoa Observer Tuilaepa was deeply unhappy about copping so much criticism about the Fugalei market, when it was not Cabinet’s decision to demolish it so soon.According to the source, a letter from the Prime Minister written in March 2013 to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) Board shows how unhappy he is. In the letter, the Prime Minister said he was tired of having to answer questions from the media in relation to the market when the matter was not brought before Cabinet.Tuilaepa suggests that the Board should have taken their time. This could have avoided the current predicament where vendors are now likely to wait for months before the new market is built.Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the Prime Minister was not keen to discuss the matter. He refused to deny or confirm the reports. But he rubbished claims by the Opposition Party that the Government has been “careless” in handling the matter.Last week,the leader of the Tautua Party, Palusalue Fa’apo II accused the government of poor planning. He said the Government should have finalised everything before the old market was pulled.Not so, according to Tuilaepa.“I have said it many, many times that that is the way that some people like it,” he said referring to farmers selling produce in the sun. “Even when we had the old market, people were still selling in the sun.”He pointed out that being in the sun was not such a bad thing.“Do you know what you get from the sun?” he asked. “Vitamin D3, the miracle vitamin, without D3 you can never transform calcium from the food into strong bones.”“It is the people who choose to brave harsh weather conditions.