ADB Provides $14 Million Development Grant To Samoa

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Most will go towards cyclone reconstruction: finance minister

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 30, 2013) – In Samoa, people will no longer have to worry about electricity or water in the aftermath of future extreme weather events.

So assured Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, who was speaking during a press conference yesterday, where the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Samoa signed a policy-based grant worth US$14 million (WST$31.8 million).

The money will go towards helping the Government in its efforts to achieve long-term fiscal stability, to improve the country’s growth prospects and reduce the vulnerability of Samoa’s economy to fiscal and climatic shocks.

Faumuina and Adrian Ruthenberg, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Fiji, participated in the grant signing ceremony for the Public Sector Financial Management Program of which the Ministry of Finance is the executing agency.

At the conference, the Samoa Observer asked whether this money would be used to take preventative measures to help avoid people being left without basic utilities like power, water and communications in the wake of cyclones.

"The climate change resilience works will be done to make sure that the questions you asked are well addressed," responded the Finance Minister.

The Minister said most of the money would go towards the cyclone recovery programme.

"In the budget of the current financial year we have put in WST$64 million [US$27.1 million] earmarked for recovery works," he said. "And that is where the majority or the bulk of the money will go to."

With regards to tangible outcomes of this new funding, Faumuina said one would be the development of a rock wall to protect the river overflow during the flooding season.

"And many other infrastructure plans to make sure that roads, electricity and water are supplied fully to those families who have been affected in the cyclones."

He thanked Mr. Ruthenberg for the money to help Samoa develop and "do the recovery work for Cyclone Even.

"I would also like to express our appreciation through you to the ADB for this generous support to make Samoa a better country.

"So this signing ceremony is to earmark not only all the hard work you have done for us but you have been a friend of this country for many years since you worked for ADB. Thank you very much" Mr. Ruthenberg said he was delighted to be at the signing.

"To do this in the company of good old friends," he said. "I have been visiting Samoa for nearly 20 years now off and on and it has been a great pleasure to work in this country.

"This product has really been the hard work of the government more than anything.

It is based on the policy matrix that was led and developed by the government."

He said ADB supported this and also acknowledged the major damage suffered during cyclone Evan.

"Which was significant, in the magnitude of 30 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product)," he said. "The resilience of the Samoa people is just amazing and we just want to help you to recover quickly form it as you have already done.

"I am very thankful to your team, Minister, for all the support you have given. I am delighted to sign this today."

According to a press release issued, the US$14 million grant sourced from the Asian Development Fund, will help finance the Public Sector Financial Management Program.

"The grant will be disbursed in two tranches: US$10 million in fiscal year 2014 and US$4 million in fiscal year 2015," the press release reads.

"The grant funding supports Government’s ongoing financial management reforms and will focus on improving state-owned enterprise performance.

"By reforming corporate governance and improving public financial management systems through strengthening internal audit processes."

The press release says this first tranche will also support improved public debt management, through a medium-term debt management reform plan.

"The ADB assistance has a special focus on climate resilience," reads the release.

"Although climate-proofing roads, bridges, and buildings can increase investment costs, it will reduce the budgetary burden in future years when climatic shocks occur.

"Stronger climate resilience will also boost investor confidence, bringing positive impacts on growth and revenues."

According to the release the second tranche will support the development of a town plan for Apia, which will incorporate suitable zoning in floodplain areas and disaster risk reduction elements in all new construction.

Samoa has received US$186.2 million in loans and US$23.5 million in grants since joining ADB in 1966, reads the release.

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