19 Jun 2002

Samoa's prime minister defends airline funding

9:13 am on 19 June 2002

Samoa's prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, has defended budget allocations for the national carrier, Polynesian Airlines after an opposition MP, Su'a Antonio, said the airline kept eating public funds.

Tuilaepa told parliament during the budget debate that state-owned Polynesian should be viewed not only in terms of revenue and expenditure.

He says like education and health, the expenditure on the airline provides broader benefits such as for the tourism industry and exporters.

Tuilaepa, who is also the airline's chairman, says New Zealand is following Samoa in keeping the national airline in governent hands.

He says Air New Zealand was placed in the private sector but it was then realised that it was the wrong thing to do.

The New Zealand government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Air New Zealand afloat.