A five percent tariff increase across the board at the Samoa Ports Authority (S.P.A) is set to raise shipping-related costs in Samoa. The increase becomes effective next month.
The raise, which was approved in 2014 by the government, is part of a plan to increase the cost of services by 25 percent to boost the government’s coffers.
According to S.P.A. General Manager, Aiganalaavasa Asofa Fereti, the 25 per cent increase is too high to implement at one time. So the decision was reached to raise it by 5 per cent per year.
The first increase was in 2014.
Next month’s raise is the second one.
“The second increase should have been implemented in October last year,” recalled the General Manager.
“It was delayed by the then Minister (Manu’alesagalala Enokati Posala) because of its impact on the general public and it was signed to be effective this year.
“It’s the second increase for the 25percent which it will be 10percent. It’s been allocated like this in fraction because it will gravely impact the public if we go ahead with 25percent straight.”
Aiga explained that the approved increase was done to help the authority in terms of revenue and developments.
Those developments he referred to include the extension of the Matautu wharf. Although the project is planned to be funded by Japan, Aiga said money is needed for maintenance work.
The General Manager was also asked how much the authority has gained since the increase in 2014.
In response, he said he does not have the details but from what he has seen “the flow of money appears to be good and the initiative is working”.
The increase is levied on export and imported goods entering the wharf amongst other ports related costs.
In 2013, the former Opposition Leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II raised alarm bells over the “huge proposed rise” from S.P.A.
Palusalue had urged Cabinet to reconsider passing the proposal because companies affected will pass on the extra expenses to the public and cause the cost of living to shoot upwards.
He blamed the authority for its reckless spending.
“S.P.A. owes an estimated $200m incurred through reckless spending especially on such ill advised projects like the revival of Satitoa wharf at Aleipata,” he said.
“Some $50million was poured into the wharf which to date has not returned a sene of income…they now function through overdraft cheques require bank.”
At the time, the then Tautua Whip who is now the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi was equally concerned.
He pointed out that the increase will be paid by “you and me”.
“Ninety percent of goods that enter the country do so via the wharves,” he said.
“Inter island ferry fares are bound to increase.”