The testing of liquor to ensure it is safe for human consumption is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Fea Leniu Tionisio Hunt, said this in a recent interview with Samoa Observer when discussing the implications of the Government’s decision to increase excise tax on locally-manufactured and imported liquor.
“Quality is where the hospital comes in, all the spirits is the hospital function to go and check. They are in our committee and we go together and check because we don’t have the facilities in our department. We depend on the hospital function to go out see what’s in these bottles. Random samples are also collected and taken to SROS now and then to test and check percentage of alcohol,” he said.
When asked if he knew much revenue generated from the excise increase will fund advocacy programmes to warn the public of the impact of alcohol abuse, he said that is a question for the Department of Health.
“Government give health and education hundreds of millions a year –it’s not up to us to decide where the money goes. The only reason why we collect the money is for the good of our people in the country. It’s not like the money we get from taxing cigarettes goes to the health of just smokers, it goes to everybody, the same with revenue collected from taxing alcohol. We look bad because we collect taxes but if they tell us that this move will improve health then we will do what’s necessary,” he said.
Samoa Observer contacted the M.O.H representative to the Liquor Board Sinei Fili and Acting C.E.O of the M.O.H Darryl Anesi to discuss actions they were taking to ensure liquor was safe for public consumption.
The Acting C.E.O, Darryl Anesi responded in an email saying: “The Ministry will respond in due time through the Office of the CEO, as per matter raised in your email.”
In the June 2018 session of parliament, former Speaker La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt appealed to the Minister of Health to look into the quality of raw materials used to locally manufacture liquor.
He was of the view that alcohol consumption was wreaking havoc on families and young people and suggested that an inquiry be done into how the liquor was locally manufactured.
“These bottles are not alcohol, they are not vodka, they are basically industrial spirit that shouldn’t even be available out there,” he said.
La’aulialemalietoa urged the Minister to ensure the products are safe for human consumption and do not have any adverse effects on the people.