Story & Photos by Lagi Keresoma
*Additional notes by Lance Polu
APIA: 4 Nov 2011: The friendship and close relations between Samoa and the Peoples Republic of China and Samoa entered new heights with the opening this morning of a US$53 million high level complex for the Samoan government.
Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesolia’i Sailele Malielegaoi said that “it is another milestone in the cordial relationship between the two countries.”
The office complex is named after the current Head of State Samoa, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi who established and signed diplomatic relations with China in 1975 and accepting the first full Chinese diplomatic mission in the south west Pacific region at the time. A move that sparked a lot of protest from the Christian churches and political commentators in Samoa and the region at the time.
His Highness and Masiofo Filifilia led the invited guests in the inspection of all the five floors of the office complex and ended at the Conference centre where entertainment showed the interactive camera work, sound system and other facilities available in the building for big conferences.
This morning, Tuilaepa acknowledged China’s continuing assistance to Samoa’s development in the construction key office complexes such as the Court Administration, sports facilities, agricultural revitalization and there is still work in progress such as the National Hospital at Moto’otua.
He said that Samoa was the first country to utilize a $40 billion yuan soft term loan facility made available to the Pacific Island countries by the Peoples Republic of China in 2006. In the same year, China wrote off Samoa’s development loans to the tune of $80 million tala.
The five storey Government Office complex will house four Cabinet Ministers offices, 10 Government Ministries and Corporations.
These include the Ministries of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Works Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Communication, Information and Technology.
The corporations include the Samoa Qualifications Authority (SQA), Public Trust, Attorney Generals Office, Samoa Water Authority (SWA) and the Electric Power Corporation (EPC).
Alongside the new complex is a full fledged Conference centre which will strengthen Samoa’s future bids as it promotes itself as the Centre for conferences in the Pacific. The Centre has a seating capacity of 500 with modern conference facilities.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa says that using the Centre for regional conferences will also drive the tourism industry and create more jobs for the country’s young population that come out of school every year.
The cutting of the ribbon to officially open the complex was jointly done by the Minister of Finance, Faumuina Luiga who will be in charge of the building, the Minister of Works, Manu’alesagalala Pokati and the Chinese Ambassador to Samoa.
Lavea Tupaimatuna Iulai Lavea, Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Finance is adamant that the building will serve Samoa well. The uncertainty is the maintenance.