Taxing remittances? Please don’t!

Re: Seasonal workers’ remittances contributing to economy

Why do the government and related entities always try to downplay our overseas Samoans contribution to our economy? Year in year out remittances has been one of the highest revenue sources for the government.

Remittances received is spent on domestically produced and imported goods increasing the tax base, which in turn increases revenues for the government from sales taxes, value-added taxes, and import duties.

My take is any monetary injection into our economy should be much appreciated. Lets face it our Tourism and Export sector is not exactly raking in hundreds of millions a year and the international financial sector, well any information on how much the government earns from SIFA and foreign investments is under lock and key.

But have a look at our total visitors for Jan - March 2018 which was 40,290 visitors. Out of that total, 52% where here to visit family and friends. And only 27.6% were on holiday and vacation. This info is found in Samoa Bureau of Statistics website.

So on top of remittances sent home more than half of our inbound visitors are overseas family members returning home to spend and inject more money into the Samoan economy. And this is nothing new it has been going on for yonks.

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I’m really happy for our seasonal workers and their financial contributions to their families and our economy. Yes their remittances is a bonus to the Samoan economy just as much as our diaspora communities.

But by comparison how can 1,690 (2016/2017) seasonal workers stack up to tens of thousands Samoans sending money home? This amount is from the Samoa Strong website, showing 1,690 Samoan seasonal workers in NZ for 2016/2017.

The numbers could be higher for the 2017/2018 period. And there is also seasonal workers in Australia but numbers unknown. Most of the information on these websites is old and not updated frequently.

The biggest threat to remittances is that some bright spark might whisper into Tuila’epa’s ear to tax it as income. Thinking this would keep the overseas Samoans from criticizing the government.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all knowing how desperate this government is for money, it has even taxed the Faifeau and brag that government revenue has gone up.

But, I hope Tuila’epa has the foresight to see this as a bad idea because if the diaspora communities stop sending remittances back home to Samoa, well I’d hate to think of what would happen to our economy.

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Soifua,

 

Oisole

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