Excellency Muktesh Pardeshi, High Commissioner of India in Wellington,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to join you all this evening to celebrate the commemoration of India’s 75th Independence anniversary. I offer our best wishes for the continued prosperity of India and the wellbeing of all its citizens. I thank you also for your congratulatory remarks and support as I begin my journey as Prime Minister to lead the new government of Samoa.
Samoa and India established diplomatic relations in 1970 and our two countries share cordial and friendly relations that are bound by our common membership of the Commonwealth, affiliations to the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum with India as a Port Forum Dialogue Partner since 2006. Samoa’s Ambassador to Japan is our accredited mission to India. We had appointed early this year our honorary consul general to India.
Our friendship and ties go beyond formal relations, Samoa has been home to the few Indian nationals, who came through the Commonwealth to be teachers and then decided to stay and made Samoa their home over the years. These teachers and their families have continued to contribute to the development of our schools and the institutions they serve as senior government officials and successful business people.
Another important step this year in our relations is the appointment of Mr Va’atu’itu’i Leonidas Apete Meredith as the Honourary Consul General of India to Samoa signifying the growing cooperation between our two countries. I extend best wishes and congratulations on your appointment and I am confident that you will assist to further enhance our bilateral relations.
Our cooperation already spans a wide cross-section of sectors and has the potential to grow further.
Sustainable partnerships towards capacity building have been facilitated through India’s Technical Economic Cooperation. A Centre of Excellence in Information Technology was set up in our National University in 2018 to provide transformative information technologies through training. Through the UN India Partnership Fund the Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative and the establishment of a Digital library at our national university provided a knowledge society platform to transform information into resources that allow any society to take effective action.
India’s support to health has been through service agreements signed in 2017 with two private medical service providers for treatment of patients in India that are not available in Samoa. Equipment to start the operations of the Dialysis Foundation were provided by the Government of India. During the measles epidemic, Samoa received a cash grant of US$250,000 for relief, rehabilitation and recovery of victims of the epidemic. Samoa has also begun a program for telemedicine with the private medical service providers in India for capacity building.
We see potential in our membership of the International Solar Alliance as a means of exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The Tax Information Exchange Agreement between Samoa and India was signed on 12 March 2020 and will enter into force upon ratification.
In closing let me extend our condolences to India for the significant loss of lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These difficult times have shown how resilience we can all be.
Once again, Congratulations and best wishes to the Indian community in Samoa on the commemoration of India’s 75th Independence anniversary.