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Minister Papali'i is on track in relation to the fate of LTA traffic officers

There are close to 40 Land Transport Authority (LTA) traffic officers who are still unsure of what lies ahead, after the Cabinet decided last month that all traffic enforcement powers currently with the Authority, will be returned to the Police.The decision immediately triggered the standing down of the officers, though thankfully they continue to be paid their salaries, while they wait for the necessary legislative amendments to be made to ensure there is a clear pathway for them out of the LTA.Last week that pathway became much more clearer when the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali'i Niko Lee Hang, laid down the process for public information.He is of the view that amendments will need to be made to the Land Transport Authority Act and the Ministry of Police Act, before there can be a transition between the Police and the Authority.“It has to go through Parliamentary process then we can implement the transition. We cannot move on with the Cabinet recommendation without following the law. That is the recommendation by the Cabinet. However, it cannot be endorsed unless the Acts are amended, and I am referring to the Ministry of Police Act and the LTA Act,” he said in a telephone interview with the Samoa Observer.The Minister also said that legal advice given by the Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, is that the Government will have to wait for the amendments to be made, before the transition can be implemented by the relevant authorities. Kudos to Minister Papali'i for being forthright about the process and the need to “do it the right way”.“The Cabinet’s decision for the transition will be implemented, no question about that, however we have to do it the right way.”A media release from the Legislative Assembly, which advised of a pre-sitting session for Members on Monday at the Maota Tofilau Eti Alesana (MTEA) Building, stated that four bills will be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday for deliberation in this session. The four bills are the National Provident Fund Amendment Bill 2019, Trustee Companies Amendment Bill 2019, Foundations Amendment Bill 2019, and the Companies Amendment Bill 2019. There was no mention of proposed amendments to the Transport Authority Act and the Ministry of Police Act, which the Minister says are necessary for the Cabinet directives to be implemented.There are also fears that the affected LTA traffic officers could be put off the payroll at the end of this financial year — through no fault of their own — as the Minister rightly expressed last month.“I know the F.K. (Cabinet directive) was effective on Monday, (28 April, 2019). But we have to be fair to them, we must wait until the amendments are made to the LTA Act 2007. "We don’t want to transfer them without due process, in case this fires back. We have to know whether the officers should be transferred over to police with the budget to pay salaries, which is what I am hoping for,” he said.With the Government moving towards handing down its 2019 budget and the air of uncertainty surrounding their jobs and their future, the affected LTA traffic officers would be wishing that the dilemma they are currently facing is quickly resolved.The affected officers refused to be interviewed by this newspaper — which is totally understable in these uncertain times — though five of them agreed to talk but only if they were not identified."We don't really know how to feel about the transition, because none of us saw this coming and so we are all just waiting to see where they’re going to assign us. But as long as we are able to provide for our families, we are good," said one of the officers.The officer’s reference to his family is tragic, confirming our fears that they could end becoming victims of Government policies, which were not carefully thought out before being implemented.The traffic officer’s admission of his worries of the impact on his family would justify the position that Minister Papali'i is taking in regards to this whole saga.This newspaper has maintained all along since this saga began, the need for some form of compensation for the affected LTA traffic officers. Minister Papali'i echoed similar sentiments recently."If some of the LTA officers do not wish to work for the Police, we have to give them a redundancy package and they can look for another job, given this is not their choice, this is a directive by the Government,” he said. We believe the Minister is on track and has the best interest of the affected LTA traffic officers at heart.Have a lovely Tuesday Samoa and God bless. 

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Street Talk

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What should be the minimum wage for workers?

I am now an unemployed person but working back in the days enabled me to see how you work hard for less. Back then we used to have only about $1.00 tala or some cents added to it as our minimum wage and it was okay. I guess back then everything was very cheap and affordable and we couldn't ask for more. But with the rise in the standard of living today, I know how it feels to not earn enough, I think the current minimum wage is not enough for families to feed themselves. I have children who work too and I feel sorry for them with the minimum wage that Samoa has. I think it's time to raise the minimum wage to say $5.00 an hour or even more. That's what I think.Given how expensive things are right now, I don't think the gap between $2.00 and $4.90 per hour is enough for the people to earn from a whole week of struggling to find food to put on the table. Everyone knows how living as a Samoan is and living in Samoa. It's not easy but if we give it our all and try to think about our children, who are running around the country to work their minds off in ministries and companies and wherever they work, then we will know how hard it is to earn that less. I think $5.00 should be the minimum wage by now or even more because I have seen that we are getting a lot of blessings from overseas countries. Where are all these blessings going to? Let's reconsider and this is to the Government or whoever is handling minimum wage.Increasing the minimum wage is something the country should consider. When I remember what the wage is per hour then that's where the frown comes in. Me or even my fellow taxi drivers do not deserve that kind of minimum wage, given how hard we're working under the sun trying to look for passengers. We all know that life is getting more and more expensive, but if we are surviving with this kind of wage then we are not on the right track. Maybe $3.50 or $5.00 or even more would at least be enough.Life right now is very much expensive. For example, me as a resident and an employer, who comes all the way from Mulifanua to Apia for work. The cost for the bus fare is $4.00 for one way and if I travel to and from Apia everyday for work and my payment a week is say $100 or $150. To be honest, the only money that will be left for me and my children to use, is just $80 a week or two weeks. How will that feed my children and get them to school? I prefer that the minimum wage should be increased to at least $5.00 or more so most families can feed their children and bring them to school without any worries or doubts.I think people should be appreciative of the minimum wage our country can afford right now. Our people need to support what our leaders are doing to run our country. If they give too much then what money will they use to run our country? I prefer that whatever minimum wage we have right now is enough to raise our families, especially our children.

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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