Pacific Islands News Briefs
SAMOA'S FOREIGN DEBT REACHES BILLION TALA MARK
Samoa's foreign debt reached the billion tala mark late last year according to a report.
The Samoa Observer newspaper reports the Chinese government is the biggest debtor with loans to Samoa worth more than $US160 million.
That's more than the combined debts to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Japan.
A Samoa Central Bank report for the last quarter of 2017 indicates that debt to China has fluctuated over the years and continues on that trend.
The Japanese government was owed $US35 million during the same period ending December 2017.
Multilateral loans stood at $US204 million with the ADB and World Bank owed 94.2 percent of that amount.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has continued this year to downplay the state of the country's debts.
In meetings with local media he has always insisted that debts are not in the billions as some commentators have said.
"For Samoa, we have our own Debt Management Policy that we watch very, very carefully to ensure that annually we are able to meet our debt service payments," said Tuilaepa during a recent interview.
He said it was up to Samoa to carefully gauge its capability to meet its debt obligations and to carefully watch the borrowings from international governments and institutions.
"Since all our debts are concessionary, we do not have such problems," he said.
SENIOR SAMOA GOVT. OFFICIALS ASKED TO RESIGN
Two Assistant Chief Executive Officers of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have been asked to resign from their positions.
This is in connection to an investigation on allegations that information was altered on the LTA system to allow vehicles (taxis) belonging to them to be registered.
The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, confirmed this yesterday.
LTA is one of Papali’’i’s portfolios.
The LTA Assistant CEOs, Anoanoai Pepe Lafai and Mata'afa Sepelini Poufa, are placed on suspension.
The Minister said he’s currently waiting for a report from the Board of Directors of the LTA.
“However, I received a letter from the Chairman of the LTA Board, who has given the ACEOs the option to resign by 4 May 2018.”
That is Friday this week.
Asked for a copy of the letter, the Minister said: “I’m sorry I will not give you a copy of that letter.
“I’m certain they have evidence which is why they have asked them (ACEOs) for their resignation.”
The Minister reminded that these are just allegations.
“I have already asked the LTA to submit a written report on this matter.
The Samoa Observer inquired whether the matter would be referred to the Ministry of Police for a criminal investigation.
The Minister said no. If the ACEOs resign, that would be the end of it.
(Source: Samoa Observer)
PACIFIC YOUTH ENCOURAGED TO GET INTO TECH
Pacific youth have a distinct opportunity to make their mark in the technology industry because of their heritage, creativity and natural ability to tell stories.
That's according to Mahuki, Te Papa museum's innovation accelerator hub, which helps to develop innovative ideas into global digital businesses for the cultural sector.
Its outreach coordinator, Sulu Fiti, who is Samoan, said he stood out in the technology sector as it has so few brown people.
But he said that hadn't stopped him from making his mark in a highly competitive sector.
"What I did and what I still do is attend meet-ups and you go there and find like minded people. When I first started going there weren’t a lot of brown faces.
"But they are now slowly starting to trickle through but we need more brown faces as there's still not enough. Attend meet-ups and network like crazy."
MAN REMAINS IN COMA AFTER “UNCONTROLLABLE RAGE” ATTACK
A man convicted of assaulting another man last November, who has since remained in a coma, has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail.
Asonei Noa of Ti’avea appeared before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala for sentencing on one charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. He pled guilty.
Justice Tafaoimalo said the prosecution summary of facts, admitted to by the accused, states that on 29 November 2017 around 11pm, the accused and the victim went to the shop. Both were intoxicated.
Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out the pre-sentence report shows the accused consumed six big bottles of beer before driving inland to see some relatives.
“He says there were a group of men drinking next to the road blocking his way. The victim refused to move and he and the victim got into a swearing match.
“The men left and he proceeded to where he was going. He had been there five minutes when he heard the victim swearing in front of the house. He and the victim began fighting.
The victim fell to the ground and the accused continued to kick him.
“He then dragged the victim to the road and left him there.”
The Supreme Court noted the defendant has previous convictions for being armed with a dangerous weapon in 2000, causing grievous bodily harm in 2001, and narcotics in 2004.
(Source: Samoa Observer)
DIGITIZING DATA A CHALLENGE FOR PACIFIC FISHING INDUSTRY
The Forum Fisheries Agency says the Pacific is facing big challenges as it embraces digital technology.
A systems analyst for the agency said that in the fisheries sector, work to digitize information is ongoing and labor intensive.
Ano Tisam said many organizations and governments in the region still use pen and paper.
He said to move ahead, information needs to be accessible in a digital format and properly stored and archived.
"We used technology to help Pacific governments to move away from what they are doing in terms of paper, and transitioning them over to digital technologies so that they can improve the way they do things to make things more efficient and more effective."
Ano Tisam was visiting New Zealand from Solomon Islands as a guest speaker at last week's Pacific Tech Summit in Auckland.
PROBE INTO MISSING MONEY AT SAMOA LAND COMMISSION
Government funds worth $50,000 removed from the money safe at the Samoa Land Corporation (SLC) is still missing.
The incident occurred in June 2017 at SLC’s Vaitele office.
“This case remains open and the investigation continues,” said Police Superintendent Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo.
“No one has been charged in connection to this matter.”
Questions about any new leads or whether an audit investigation has been carried out yet were not answered.
Last year, Police Superintendent Sala’a Sale Sala’a told the Samoa Observer they did not have concrete evidence to proceed with a prosecution.
“But that does not mean the Police have stopped the investigation."
(Source: Samoa Observer)