Minister denies claims
The Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has denied claims that the Government is desperate for money.
“The three Revenue Bills introduced (during the last Parliamentary session) were due to the health issues faced by Samoa,” he said.
“They have nothing to do with claims that the Government has run out of money.”
The Minister of Revenue was responding to questions from the Samoa Observer, strongly rejecting reports the Government was “desperate” for money.
The Ministry of Revenue Bills were submitted under expedited process meaning they were introduced and approved the same day.
The measures have already been signed into law three days after approval from Parliament, says Tialavea.
“The main reason we are placing taxes on the sugary drinks, the frozen chicken, the lamb flaps and turkey tail is because of the health conditions of our people,” he said.
“Non-communicable diseases kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70 percent of all deaths globally.
“Each year, 15 million people die from a N.C.D. between the ages of 30 and 69 years. Over 80 percent of these premature deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
“Cardiovascular diseases account for most N.C.D. deaths, or 17.7 million people annually, followed by cancers (8.8 million), respiratory diseases (3.9million), and diabetes (1.6 million).
“These four groups of diseases account for over 80 percent of all premature N.C.D. deaths.
“Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a N.C.D. and these are data from the World Health Organization so think about it, we are doing it for a better and healthier Samoa.
“As further indicated by the W.H.O, preventative measures should be put in place and this is part of the prevention strategy made with the recommendations of the Ministry of Health,” said Tialavea.
He then pointed out that American Samoans love to eat turkey tail and they have been labelled as the fattest people in the world.
“And we don’t want that for our people, which is why we will increase the taxes on the turkey tail.
“We can easily ban it, but we will not do it because this is in violation of people’s freedom to choose what they want to consume,” said the Minister.
Ministry of Revenue Bill increases the cost of food items like imported chicken.
The Bill will increase the Customs tariffs for lamb flaps to 20 percent, chicken to 10 percent, and also places an excise tax of 10 percent on turkey tails.
The Bill was approved during its final reading in Parliament yesterday. The Bill was put through and approved after going through an expedited process.
SUGARY DRINKS BILL
The Bill increases the excise tax on sugary drinks including wine by 3 percent from the current excise tax rate charged.
The new increased excise rate is applicable to imported sugary drinks and locally made sugary drinks.
The Bill seeks to amend the schedule of the Excise Tax Rates Act 1984 by replacing rates for tariffs for certain items with new tariff rates.
This follows the Government’s revenue review completed in 2016.
BILL ON LOCALLY MADE LIQUOR
The Government has increased excise tax on liquor to 100 percent.
The increase applies only to all locally manufactured liquor.
This Bill also sets a limitation of locally made liquor to a 40 percent alcohol volume. Also there will be no more liquor bottles underneath 500 milliliters.