Monday, August 16, 2010

Faleomavaega Engineering Destruction of American Samoa Economy

In an absolutely stunning development, Faleomavaega admitted to a Samoa Observer reporter that he has been encouraging officials of the territory’s last remaining major private sector employer, StarKist Tuna, to relocate its loining operations to the nearby independent state of Samoa.

“I encouraged Star Kist to look to Western Samoa,” revealed Faleomavaega to the observer. “There is also another canning company I encouraged to come to W. Samoa to set up shop because this company has the capacity. Not only can they can and process tuna, but they can also process vegetables and things where there is tremendous potential here.

“Western Samoa has got more land capacity to grow crops, agricultural production things that can be canned not just tuna but canned vegetables and fruits,” he argued in the amazing interview.

Observer reporter Mata’afa Keni Lesa went on to write that “Faleomavaega suspects StarKist plans to establish a loining plant here. “

“It would provide jobs for our people here to process the tuna,” says Faleomavaga. Since so many of our people (working in American Samoa) are from Western Samoa - I would say 70 to 80 per cent of the workers – the plant will help them tremendously.”

It is unclear if Faleomavaega appreciated that in this 21st century world of instant communication, his interview would be seen in American Samoa almost immediately. Indeed, Samoa News linked directly to the story last Wednesday and on Friday covered the issue itself in a page one story that carried a secondary headline pointing out Eni’s treachery.

Yet at the same time, despite the secondary headline, the paper did not go out of its way to amplify on Eni’s words or discuss the implications nor did the paper have anything further to say about Eni’s role in a follow up story done over the weekend in which they confirmed with the Samoa government that it is in negotiations with StarKist about establishing operations on Savai’i.

Perhaps it is all a bluff on StarKist’s part, hoping to press Faleomavaega to move his bill through Congress to delay the next wage hike before it is scheduled to go into effect in September. In a recent release, he blamed the freshman delegate from the Northern Marianas for the bill being stalled in the Senate. How is it possible a first term delegate can hold up an action desired by a powerful ten-term member? Easy. The senior Faleomavaega is not powerful at all. Samoa News, where Faleomavaega’s sister-in-law is a writer and editor, won’t say it, but we will.

Governor Togiola is off-island but when he returns, he likely will have more to say on Eni’s role in sabotaging the American Samoa economy, for that’s what he is doing.

Incidentally, in another demonstration of his lack of influence, he gave the interview on his way to American Samoa from Vanuatu, where he attended the recent Pacific Island Forum. His major issue is the future of West Papua but despite whatever pleas he made, the Forum refused to discuss the issue at their summit. Eni should have stayed home. After all, this is called a "district work period" and last time we looked, Vanuatu was not in his district. We wonder where he is headed next?


Anonymous said...

Be careful of criticizing this one too heavily because loining in Samoa might be the best bet for keeping the packing jobs in AS. Loining in AS is absolutely no longer feasible and keeping loining nearby might save a few hundred jobs in AS.

Anonymous said...

Once StarKist has established a loining operation on Savai'i, it will be only a matter of time until they shift the rest of the plant over there as well. Eni can't have it both ways: he either is or is not involved in local economic development. He's less dangerous when he is globetrotting.