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Samoa Parliament debates $US23m 'Covid-19' budget

Samoa's parliament
Source: RNZ Pacific

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's Parliament is in urgent session as members debate a $US23.6 million stimulus package to deal with the impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic and to assist the local economy.

It is the second supplementary budget in less than three months after the first for the current financial year was approved in January.

Over half of the second supplementary budget is funded by donor partners.

As expected, the Ministry of Health gets the bulk of the proposed stimulus funding with a $US7.2 million allocation.

This will go towards awareness programmes for the prevention of Covid-19 as well as building negative pressure buildings for any coronavirus patients and for the building of special wards and quarantine centres.

The funds will also go towards preventive and testing equipment and any necessary medicine for treatment.

MP, Gatoloaifa'ana Amataga Alesana Gidlow, supported the budget but called for the country, especially her fellow MPs, to sacrifice for the revival of the economy.

She wanted parliamentarians to lead by example and reduce their salaries.

Gatoloaifa'ana is the daughter of the late Prime Minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana.

Meanwhile all sectors of the local economy have been given assistance in the stimulus package such as two months loan re-payments by contributors in the National Provident Fund to be refunded.

Pensioners will get an extra $US145 on top of their usual $75 a month until June.

The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, told Parliament government had no plan to reduce the public service work force.

Samoa currently has no confirmed cases of Covid-19.