14 Jul 2021

Pacific News Briefs for Wednesday July 14th

3:28 pm on 14 July 2021

Samoa resumes vaccinations

Samoa has resumed its nation-wide Covid-19 immunisation programme after a temporary suspension while awaiting new supplies.

The Samoa Observer reported the latest batch of vaccines arrived last week as part of the Australian government-led distribution of 15 million doses across the Pacific.

Another 10,000 doses are expected to arrive by the end of the week.

The Health Ministry said 10,189 people have now been fully vaccinated against covid while 53,230 have only had their first doses.

Pharmaceutical research Scientist developing a new drug or vaccine in the lab.

Photo: AFP / Tek Image/Science Photo Library

It also said that 43.7 percent of the eligible population have received their first injection but only 8.4 percent have been fully immunized.

The MOH is aiming to vaccinate 90 percent of the eligible population and is also working closely with other Government agencies in monitoring arrivals and departures from our ports and national airport to keep Samoa safe from the virus.

The rollout has started in outer villages but facilities are still open in Apia for immunization.

Samoa is also to receive 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan.

Japan will donate 3 million vaccine doses to it's Asia-Pacific neighbours, as part of bilateral relations.

Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu says Samoa will receive it's share between now and mid-August through the COVAX facility.

Beyond Covid-19, Pacific faces severe challenges - IMF

The International Monetary Fund warns Pacific Island countries will face a longer period of recovery from the impact of Covid-19 because they have depended heavily on tourism as a major income.

Addressing the virtual Forum Economic Ministers Meeting from Washington DC this week, the IMF's deputy managing director Tao Zhang said the Pacific region may not get back to the tourism level it had experienced in 2019.

Mr Tao says any post-covid recovery is expected to happen after 2023.

He says for tourism-reliant countries such as Palau, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu, the recovery will take longer.

"Our best guess is that the region may now get back to 2019 tourism levels before 2023. Beyond the pandemic, Pacific Islands face severe daunting challenges."

More in the Cooks outer islands get jabs

All eligible residents on Pukapuka and Nassau in the Cook Islands have received their first Covid-19 vaccine.

A combined group of 293 were jabbed with the Pfizer vaccine over the weekend, as the police patrol boat Te Kukupa began delivering vaccines to the northern group.

The Cook Islands News reports a doctor, two vaccinators and one support staff member are on board.

The team will next move to Manahiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn before returning to Rarotonga.

Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the only islands that have received both doses of the vaccine.

CNMI gets two more positive cases - SUV raffle prize to promote vaccines

The Northern Marianas has now had 187 positive Covid-19 after two infected people were identified in screening on arrival.

The individuals have been quarantined and are being actively monitored.

Of the 187 total cases so far in the CNMI, 150 were identified by travel screening while 37 were local transmissions.

Meanwhile, the government has increased incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated in its effort to achieve herd immunity, which it has set at 80 percent of the eligible population.

Once a week for seven weeks, beginning this Friday, the "Road to 80" as it's been dubbed will offer cash prizes, with a grand prize of an SUV.

PNG PM defends Bank South Pacific after money laundering warning

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has come out in defence of Bank South Pacific after it received a stern warning by PNG's anti-money laundering body.

BSP has been told by the Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit to engage an external auditor after it found "detailed and compelling evidence" of breaches of the country's anti-money laundering rules.

Warned about a plethora of violations, PNG's largest lender has also been ordered to remove some senior managers.

PNG's Prime Minister James Marape has defended the ASX-listed bank and its adherence to regulations, saying it conducted itself well.

He said that what happens in someone's account is not always something BSP can control.

Niue Minister explains airport repair delays

Niue's Minister of Finance and Infrastructure Crossley Tatui says the government is still to finalise a deal to re-seal the airport runway.

The agreement is between the government, the New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the contractor, Downers.

Niue Broadcasting reports Mr Tatui says that there are some things that still need to be ironed out.

Under part of the deal concluded so far Downers will be exempt from paying Niue's consumption tax on equipment it brings to the island.

It will also be able to buy diesel fuel at bulk rates.

Mr Tatui told reporters the concessions are about 'spending money to make money.'

He says there will be benefits from the number of workers coming to the island and spending money locally.

American Samoa reveals half a billion dollar Budget

The proposed 2022 Budget for American Samoa totals 552.7 million US dollars, an increase of 19 percent over the current year budget.

Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga released a snapshot of the budget yesterday.

Local revenues remain at $110.1 million, grants total $219.5 million, Enterprise Funds amount to $212.8 million and Capital Improvement Program funds total $10.2 million.

Lemanu also gave the aggregate amount of federal monies received by ASG for Covid since March of last year to the present time - a total of 1.4 billion US dollars.

This includes funds from the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act and all federal grants related to Covid-19.