Samoa Observer

APIA, Samoa (April 15) – Four months before the South Pacific Games are to be held in August-September, reports have emerged that more countries besides Guam are seriously considering not taking part.

The main reason - apart from financial constraints of course - is that they have yet to be reassured that the games' facilities, services and venues, will be properly completed in time.

Although Prime Minister Tuilaepa has assured that the preparations will have been finished way ahead of time, there are skeptics who want to see visible proof to be convinced.

For instance, would the organising committee disclose publicly who would be providing transport for athletes, medical services, food catering, and other services?

And would the roads and bridges around Apia including those to accommodation venues be completed in time?

The point is that today is probably not a good time for any delegation from a competing country to visit Apia.

This is because that delegation would surely be pretty discouraged by the slowness with which projects designed for the games are being carried out.

At Tuana'imato Sports Grounds where most of the sports are to be held, a lot of work needs to be done to facilities and playing fields alike.

As if that's not despairing enough, they're using coconut rib brooms to sweep away trimmed grass at the rugby and cricket fields there.

Can't they get a couple of self-sweeping mobile mowers to trim the grass?

Incidentally, how much in total will the government have spent on these games? Wouldn't it be good if the public - they're the ones paying for the games aren't they? - was made aware of these things?

And on foreign participation, how many overseas visitors are expected to attend? Are the games being promoted overseas with the idea of attracting people to visit?

Well, we don't know about other countries, but from what we've seen in New Zealand, hardly any promotion is being conducted at all. Which means we should not expect planeloads of New Zealand visitors discharging at Faleolo Airport before the games begin.

Which also brings us to a rather troubling worry expressed by a banker in Apia the other day. He says there's a big chance the games would fail miserably to pay for the cost of hosting them.

A lot of borrowing has gone into preparing for these games, he points out. But then it's only a two-week event, and it's virtually impossible to recoup what's been spent during such a short time.

Asked how much he thought would have been spent, he declined to comment saying only: "A lot." Does that mean the public should expect higher taxes after the games are over, including perhaps a further increase in the Value Added Goods and Services Tax (VAGST)?

Read this letter from the owner of a small business in Apia:

"I wonder if you would investigate the matter of overtaxing in Samoa. I don't think the government realises the total amount of taxes paid by businesses and employees, and rumours are that the VAGST would be increased once again.

Business: personal/company 27-35 percent; VAGST - 15 percent; Withholding tax - 10 percent; NPF - 5 percent; ACB - 1 percent; EPC surcharge - 71 percent. Total - $67-71 percent.

We have never had a refund from our withholding taxes since 1995, and we are a very small company.

Why are (corporation) CEO's/MPs paid sitting fees on boards when it's during their working hours in addition to their big pay packets, and there is still a lot of mismanagement?

Would someone in government be good enough to answer these questions? Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.

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