February 15, 2019

Tahiti concerned about Pacific Games accommodation

Tahiti concerned about Pacific Games accommodation

Tahiti has expressed concerns over the suitability of accommodation for athletes competing in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed in November between the Samoa Government and accommodation providers in Upolu and Savai'i.

But the majority of athletes will now base themselves at the Methodist Church of Samoa's Faleula compound for the July Games after officials were only able to convince 30 hotels to come on board, which will only cater for one quarter of the 4000 beds required.

The Vice President of Tahiti's Olympic Committee, Charles Villierme, said they have concerns the facilities will not enable athletes to perform to their best.

We used to, like in New Caledonia (in 2011), have a different way of lodging the athletes but in Samoa at first we were told that all athletes were going to be in hotels and lately we had information that it would be at the Baptist Church lodging,” he said.

“Our General Treasurer and our Chef de Mission have just come back from Samoa and they have inspected those housing for the athletes and we figure that it's not that it's bad but our athletes figure that they're not going to be in a good mood but we told them everybody is going to be at the same level.”

Charles Villierme said some of the lodgings in the Faleula compound are in better condition than others.

“Because we were the first to be there and the first to have paid we have asked for those condominiums and they said they did not attribute (the lodgings) to any countries yet, so we have to wait.

“We might have with the ok of the Pacific Games Council maybe other suggestions....Next week we have a board meeting of the (Tahiti) Olympic Committee and then we have the final decision then.”

Pacific Games Office CEO Falefata Hele Ei Matatia said in December he remained confident athletes will be provided with suitable accommodation during the July event.

He said discussions with the hotel sector were continuing.

$503.73 million in remittances top Samoa foreign exchange earner

$503.73 million in remittances top Samoa foreign exchange earner

$503.73 million in remittances top Samoa foreign exchange earner

Remittance is Samoa’s largest form of foreign exchange earner with the 2017/18 financial year recording about $503.73 million tala (US$193 million) in earnings. 

According to figures released by the Central Bank of Samoa, this is an increase of $98.56m tala(US$37.7 million) compared to the 2016/17 financial year, which was about $405.17m tala (US$155 million). 

The data also highlights New Zealand is still Samoa’s largest source of remittances with 40-45 per cent or $203.87m tala (US$78 million)of the total remittances for the last financial year. 

Australia’s inflow of private remittances amounted to $162.28m tala(US$62 million) and the United States $87.88 tala million(US$33 million) tala for the same period. 

American Samoa totaled $17.63 million tala (US$6.7 million), United Kingdom $4.22 million tala (US$1.6 million), Fiji $3.13 million tala (US$1.19 million), and other source countries a total of $23.63m(US$9 million).

Almost 70 per cent or $52.93 million tala(US$20.3 million) of the total remittances are for families and individuals and is an increase of $28.52 million tala (US$10.9 million) when compared to the $322.49 million tala(US$123.8 million) of the previous year. 

Churches, schools and Charities are also major recipients of the remittances recording about $52.93 million tala, an increase of $43.89 million tala(US$16.3 million) when compared to the previous year. 

“There are quite a lot of church events and those being built last year, and they go to New Zealand and Australia to fundraise a lot of this so they bring that money and a lot of them contribute to the remittances,” said an official at the bank, who is not authorised to speak to the media. 

“It’s hard to explain why people are sending money, maybe because they are getting good money and a good economic background. 

“If you look at Samoa and Tonga, a lot of remittances are driven by cultural obligations, if there’s a funeral, wedding, bestowal of matai titles, so families start sending this.”

According to the official, there’s been a change in composition, in the past it used to be New Zealand and then the United States, but now it’s New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. 

“In the past U.S. had a very strong dollar, so even though there’s not a lot of Samoans from here living in the U.S. and American Samoa, but because of the strong dollar they had quite a strong value of remittances from those countries. 

“But now we’ve seen that Australia is the second largest market, and that is because since 2008 there’s been a strong Australian dollar, so the value is going up. 

“But we’ve seen a lot of job opportunities in Australia, the mines, and sports as well, we’ve seen a lot of migration from New Zealand to Australia and also with the free visa between these two countries – it has allowed a lot of Samoans in New Zealand to migrate over to Australia, and that was also another contributing factor that Australia is now our second largest market, and then the U.S.”

According to the official, Samoa’s four traditional markets have always been Australia, New Zealand, the United States (including Hawaii), and American Samoa. 

“That’s where a lot of Samoans migrate too as well. With American Samoa, it used to be strong at one point, with a lot of the Samoans working at the two canneries at the American Samoa because a lot of the workers used to be hired from this side, but when they closed one of the major canneries five years ago, we’ve seen that decline further and now they are closing another one. The share for American Samoa has declined because of the situation.” 

The Central Bank collects data from the four commercial banks in Samoa and the 12 money transfers in order to put together the figures. 

“Around about 85 per cent of all remittances come through money transfers, so a lot of people prefer money transfers because it’s cheaper, and more convenient than going to a bank in New Zealand and sending the money, it’s more expensive,” said the official.

Vanuatu export breakthrough to New Caledonia

Vanuatu export breakthrough to New Caledonia

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai signed a historic bilateral trade agreement with New Caledonia on Wednesday this week in Noumea.

The signing took place after weeks of discussions between technical officials led by newly appointed Director General, Roy Mickey Joy.

President of the New Caledonian Government, Philippe Germain and the Prime Minister say they wish to see this trade agreement reach a new level.

This agreement opens up export of 29 products from Vanuatu to New Caledonia and 33 prodcuts from New Caledonia to Vanuatu.

Vanuatu products listed for export to New Caledonia include kava, cocoa, cassava, taro, island cabbage, noni juice, coconut juice and flesh.

Favourable tax rates will be taken into account in this trade agreement.

Some of the products in the list will have to go through market assessment.

Technical officials from both sides will be meeting again in March to finalise arrangements once the French Government gives its endorsement.

Beef from Vanuatu is not listed under this agreement yet.