An open letter to the Minister for Revenue and the H.R.P.P. government

By Marj Moore 23 January 2017, 12:00AM

To Tialavea Hunt, thank you for setting up public consultations to look for new revenue sources to fund “development projects that will raise the welfare of our people” (see advertisement on Page 28).

We, the people, are pretty thrilled to be involved in this decision-making process which will help you take more of our money and find new sources for you to access. 

To be honest, we would prefer you go for the latter option rather than the former.

We would of course be even more thrilled if you could work within the budget you yourselves – the government, set out for the year and not come back to us again with your hands out.

However perhaps you have just recently become aware of ongoing problems like high youth unemployment, child vendors etc low literacy levels which urgently need addressing?

If so, that’s encouraging and suggests you are starting to listen to the people; taking note of what you see outside your cars and perhaps even reading, listening or watching the news?

Do forgive us, that having been burnt in the past when large amounts of our money have gone to so many projects that have NOT raised the welfare of our people, we would like a little more information from you about what these “developments” are.

You see, in the real world of families coping with the cost of living, business people working to succeed, money is not freely given for unnamed developments whether they are to raise the welfare of our people or for any other reason

Before  offering or committing money for anything, most investors and donors are pretty fussy about details and like to see feasibility studies, a business plan – you know, something along those lines.

A vague phrase like “development projects that will raise the welfare of our people” does not cut it when you are asking for yet more of our money. 

We the people, also have some hefty trust issues with your government which are hard to forget and have made us more than a little suspicious of anything new you come up with.

Unlike America, where the new president is talking about the power going back to the people, (let’s wait and see if that happens), our style of democracy up until now, has been more along the lines of our government saying, “we know what’s best for you, leave it with us.”    

And when we have done just that in the past – left it with you, we have ended up unwittingly funding projects like the now-idle and deteriorating wharf at Aleipata. 

And the empty Vaitele Market. And the ridiculously overpriced, multi-storey building at the Faleata golf course. You know the others.

And because Minister, you did tell us previously that you have been tasked with looking for funds for the new prison which will be open for 60 Minutes reporters and other interested parties in June, are you perhaps referring to the prison as one of the development projects to raise the welfare of our people?

It would be good to know.

We have suggested before that another source of funds would be recovering unauthorised expenditure by government officials. Or selling those white elephants that litter our islands. 

However those ideas have never really been greeted with any enthusiasm on your part.

So apologies for our lack of ideas, but the only other source of funding could be the religious organizations whose churches rival your many large buildings.

After all, according to the people, churches are where a lot of their money goes.

By Marj Moore 23 January 2017, 12:00AM

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