PNG influence in Samoa

Lamana to build a US$50m hotel project

While Samoa continues to debate the growing influence of Chinese businesses in the country, one group has been welcomed with opened arms by the Samoan government.

The Lamana Group of Papua New Guinea has officially begun work on a man-made island in Apia. It’s the first foreign business group that’s stayed true to its commitment to invest in Samoa. Many foreign investors had forwarded proposals to build international hotels on this island at Moataa, just a couple of minutes away from Apia town area. So when the PNG company’s proposal was first made public two years ago, it was met with scepticism, not just from government but also from the business sector. Many shrugged the proposal off—Taumeasina was becoming a laughing matter every time an investor showed an interested on the place.

Even government wasn’t so excited about it, “waiting to see if this group from PNG would return” as Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi recalled. It took a year for the team to return and finalised its commitment but even then, there wasn’t much interest pulled into the investment.

The government was becoming all too familiar with the routine. Investors would come to Samoa, set out their demands and wishes to ensure their stay is as comfortable as possible and then leave never to be seen again. In June, Lamana’s commitment was endorsed with the groundbreaking ceremony, bringing to Samoa the managind director of this construction development company, Kostas Constantinou. Tuila’epa was grateful to the PNG company for investing in the country. Their project, the Taumeasina Resort, is a US$50 million development which will include 70 hotel rooms, 30 villas including restaurants and conference areas, cafeterias and entertainment facilities.

This PNG group is a privately owned property developing company based in Port Moresby. Since its establishment in 1994, it centres its work on building luxury apartment units and commercial office buildings as well as hotels in Papua New Guinea and around the Pacific. For Samoa, it appears that so many US, European and Asian business groups bring promises of similar major investments in the country but with little results.

The only solid deals have come from within the region with Tanoa Tusitala owned and run by the Tanoa Group from Fiji, and now the latest project has come from Papua New Guinea with the Lamana Group. The Taumeasina Resort is expected to open for business next year.
Source: Isand Business
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