Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has challenged British American Tobacco (B.A.T.) Samoa Limited to expand its horizons to Samoa’s Pacific neighbours and beyond.
Tuilaepa issued the challenge during the celebration of the company’s 40th Anniversary held at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum on Thursday night.
The celebration was closed to the media.
But the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Press Secretary released a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday.
“I wish to congratulate the management and staff of B.A.T. Samoa for their 40th year milestone anniversary,” Tuilaepa said.
“I challenge you to expand your business horizon to our Pacific neighbours and beyond. Technology has made business very convenient and fast to date, where you do not have to physically establish in a remote location, but through the use of the Internet, you can do business from Samoa given the availability of our new I.C.T infrastructure.”
B.A.T Samoa, formerly known as Rothmans Tobacco Company Limited, began business operation in Samoa in 1978.
Tuilaepa acknowledged that the arrival of Rothmans was at a “very challenging” time when the Government was seeking new business investment and employment for Samoa.
“B.A.T. is one of the oldest companies in the country, and has ever since committed to expanding its investment and providing more employment opportunities for our people, over the last four decades,” he said.
“I am informed that your company employs 50 Samoans and renders business to more than 800 retailers around the country. These are telling figures of B.A.T’s tangible contribution to the development of Samoa.
“The government acknowledge B.A.T’s contribution to employment creation and in generating revenues for government. We welcome genuine and long term business investments such as B.A.T. Samoa; because what it means is that our children and future generation will have secure jobs and will make meaningful contributions to our growth and progression.”
The Prime Minister also touched on health issues surrounding cigarettes.
“As we all know smoking is largely attributed to numerous non communicable diseases as openly expressed by the health experts,” he said.
“This is a global concern and is not new to Samoa. The government through relevant legislation and policies continues to address these concerns through taxation.
“Currently there is an amendment before Parliament that will further regulate tobacco licensing regime to control tobacco licensing fees for manufacturers, importers and distributors.
“This is a normal practice in any democratic country. While these amendments will provide business challenges for B.A.T., the government remains open to dialogue in this area and will endeavour to find workable solutions in future.
“At the same time the government acknowledge with appreciation B.A.T’s compliance with government legislation and policies over these many years, and its efforts in creating business and employment for our people.”