Committee Finds Samoa Government Should Not Have Transferred Land

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Parliament report says giving land to Samoa Trust Estates was wrong

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 19, 2014) – The government gave away 18,500 acres of land to the Samoa Trust Estates Corporation (S.T.E.C.), which it should not have done. That’s what a Parliamentary Committee has found, according to a report tabled and passed through Parliament last month.

The Primary Production, Commerce, Industry and Labour (P.P.C.I.L.) Committee on the S.T.E.C. Annual Report for the financial year ending June 30 2011 recommends this land, located at Lata, be reexamined.

The Committee is chaired by Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi.

"The Corporation is still concerned in satisfying the provisions of the Act that rearranges its estates with the newly established Samoa Land Corporation (SLC)," the report reads.

"These provisions are clear in where the Government exchanges land with the Trust Estate.

"It was noted that there are certain lands that should not have been given to the Corporation, which is why 6,500 acres and 12,000 acres in Lata are reexamined.

"The shifting of these lands led to the change in titles of these lands."

The P.P.C.I.L. Committee reports the Government has currently not given other parcels of estates.

"The Corporation confirmed that the first part of the Act, it gives 11 estates to the Government. In the second part of the Act, the Government should give close to 12,000 acres in Lata (parcels in Asau and Falelima) to the Corporation," the report reads.

"These estates are under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.).

"The Corporation believes that it should consult with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) and S.L.C. in defining these estates."

Looking at the Corporation’s loans debts the Committee noted that the Corporation was also $8,200,000 in debt at the end of the 2012 Financial Year.

"The term loan with Westpac Bank Samoa Ltd is for a term of 10 years and is secured on 80 acres of land at Mulifanua, with an interest rate of 13.0 per cent per annum with monthly repayments of interest $25,490.00 per month," according to the report.

"The term loan with N.P.F. (National Provident Fund) is for a term of l5 years and is secured on 150 acres of land in Mulifanua, with monthly repayments of interest of $14,115.64.

"These loans were repaid using the loan of $3,500,000 million from the Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.).

"The cost of leasing under the Corporation is not the same.

"The Committee noted the following debts belonging to the Corporation: 2010 - $2,500,000, 2011 - $2,800,000 (and) 2012 - $2,900,000.

"The Corporation confirmed its payments from the costs of its estates were given to the Ministry of Police, otherwise there is no debt.

As of right now, the Corporation is continually paying off its interests.

In addition to Leaupepe the P.P.C.I.L. Committee is comprised of Maualaivao Pat Ah Him as the Deputy Chairman, Tuiloa Anetelea, Afualo Wood Uti Salele, Tialavea Fea T Seigafolava, Aeau Peniamina Leavaiseeta and Aveau Nikotemo Palamo.

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