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By Mathew Lemisio

APIA, Samoa (July 2, 2002 – Samoa Observer)---Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni yesterday called on members of Samoa Aufaipopo Society to unite for the sake of Samoa’s copra industry.

"Come, this is our oil mill," he said in his main address at the grand opening of Elan Trading Limited at Vaitele yesterday.

"Whatever happened between us in the past, let’s forget about it and show unity by working together to develop the copra industry of our country.

"It’s for the sake of Samoa," Misa added.

SAS’s relationship with ETL and the government became sour when their tender for the Vaitele Oil Mill was beaten by ETL’s.

The society had been running the mill for sometime in conjunction with New Zealand’s Oil Seeds Ltd. before it was closed down in the late ’90s.

And when they found out that ETL had won the right to run the oil mill, SAS quickly accused the government of treating them "unfairly."

The society also thought the government’s tender board was not honest with the way they handled the tender competition.

But the government’s financial secretary, Hinari Petana, denied that. She said in a press conference last year that the tender for the oil mill was carried out fairly and legally.

Since then, SAS members parted from ETL claiming they were ETL’s main competitor.

SAS is not selling copra to ETL. Most of it had been stored at Vailele.

SAS Secretary Tuialamu Mosese said they were building an oil mill of their own.

It is scheduled to operate by the end of this month, he said.

But Misa is urging them to show support by working together with ETL.

"Whatever you have planned, we shall work together for the sake of not only the copra industry, but for the people of Samoa," Misa said.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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