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PASO Council Meeting in Apia Oct 2006
KEY NOTE ADDRESS FOR THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE PASO COUNCIL MEETING IN APIA

10TH OCTOBER 2006

By Hon. Tuisugaletaua Aveau Sofara, Minister for Works, Transport and Infrastructure

Rev. Fomai Lafaialii
Hon. Prime Minister , Susuga Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi
Honorable Ministers of Cabinet
Honorable Associate Ministers
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Chairman and Directors of the PASO Council
Heads of Government Ministries and Corporations
Ladies and Gentlemen

Greetings and Talofa to you all, on this momentous occasion, the convening of the first ever PASO Council of Directors' Meeting in Apia,Samoa.

It is with delight that I extend to the Council of PASO a warm welcome, on behalf of the Government and people of Samoa.

Since its inception in August 2002, the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) has made steady inroads towards realization of full operational status. I have been informed that the pathway thus far has been fraught with hardships and turmoil, as can be attested to by those that are here today, the founding members of the Council of Directors.

I am sure the decision in the Pacific Aviation Ministers Action Plan, which was approved by our Forum Leaders, to create a harmonized and integrated operating regime in the Pacific, will go a long way to enhancing safety and security oversight of civil aviation in our Region, given the economies of scale and shared capacity likely to be involved.

It is pleasing to note that ICAO also fully encourage and promote such regional co-operative approach, in support of the strengthening of member States oversight capabilities. Achieving proper safety oversight capability is considered one of the basic tenets of Aviation Safety.

As member States of ICAO with inadequate human, technical and financial resources to support individual arrangements to fulfill Safety Oversight obligations, PASO is seen as a means for Small Island States towards the achievement of flexible, sustainable and cost effective Oversight solutions.

Moreover, the increase in security compliance costs brought on by the increase in terrorist activities worldwide coupled with industry demand to ensure safety of air services, meant that the pooling of regional resources was inevitably bound to be the most logical way forward.

In a nutshell then, PASO's guiding aim is to enhance safety and security of civil aviation through regionalism thus maximizing the efficient use of limited small island resources. The adoption of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices as its mandate will no doubt assist member State service providers and Airlines, to attain international level of compliances at affordable costs. If managed well and persevered upon by member States, PASO could develop into a world-class safety and security oversight model fully responsive to our individual island needs.

Special mention is to be made of the Governments of New Zealand and Australia, who have been instrumental in providing much needed resources at crucial times to assist the PASO through lean times. As the Good Book says, I hope your cup will continue to overflow.

The unrelenting support by the Forum Secretariat to PASO's mission through effective co-ordination, facilitation and expert advice is undeniably, tangible proof of regional co-operation consistent with the mandated vision of the Forum Leaders. This form of assistance is also deeply acknowledged with full appreciation.

Finally, I want to reiterate the continued support of my country for the PASO Organisation and wish the Council of Directors fruitful and meaningful exchanges of views, to guide the momentum of the PASO Organization through its final phase of becoming fully operational.

I also wish to acknowledge with sincere gratitude the Council's continued faith and trust in Samoa's main representative to the PASO Organisation to chair the Council for the last four years.

For our first time visitors, I encourage you in your limited time remaining to view what our small town has to offer and hope that you return to your countries with good memories of Samoa.

In conclusion, I now declare this Council Meeting officially open.

Soifua ma ia manuia.