23 Jul 2002

Samoans reject World Bank call for an end to remittances

5:20 pm on 23 July 2002

There's been strong opposition in Samoa to a call by the World Bank for an end to Pacific islanders sending remittances home.

The acting prime minister, Misa Telefoni, received an apology over remarks by the general manager of the World Bank's South Pacific Project Facility, Denise Aldous, who said remittances created dependency.

Other prominent leaders have also spoken out against the comments.

Unasa Dr Leulu Felise Va'a, a senior lecturer at the National University of Samoa, says the World Bank should not be telling people what to do.

"I think this is just unethical. You don't tell people how to make their choices, and sending money home is certainly an economic choice and they are certainly getting benefits if not by return gifts of traditional goods then by invisible goods like by matai titles and other entitlements over here in Samoa."

Dr Va'a says the World Bank hasn't taken into consideration that many Samoans regard remittances as an investment because they maintain their family ties and it often provides them with chiefly titles.