A former Cabinet Minister has strongly objected to a government plan by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour to put an end to street vendors.
Former Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, voiced his objection in Parliament this week during the debate of the 2017-2018 Budget.
Faumuina pointed out that with public schools, annual reports indicate there are 43,000 to 44,000 students from year one to year eight.
“By the time these students reach college, there are only 17,000 students left,” Faumuina said. “So what happens to the other 20,000 students?
“Now I’m hearing there is a proposed law which will prohibit children from being street vendors?
“Why are we creating such a law when the students don't want to go to school?
“The lack of funding is not the issue here, it’s just that these students are not good in school.”
Faumuina said the issue calls for a different approach.
“That is why I am suggesting for the government to consider establishing a school to teach the young kids how to enter into the business world.
“This will teach them basic skills such as counting money and how to sell items such as matches, q-tips, soaps and so forth.
“Once they are taught, they will eventually learn how to sell goods.”
Faumuina added that if the government prohibits children from street vending, it would only mean they would do something else.
“Where will they go?”
Faumuina said he too was a street vendor when he was young.
“I did it out of love for my parents. Why? Because I needed money for bus fares and to pay for my schooling. I did it out love.”
The M.P. said if the plan becomes law, it should stipulate that children should not be on the streets after 6pm.
“But you cannot prohibit the kids,” he said. “This is the means of other families to get financial assistance.”