Olioli wine debated in Parliament
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi says the Government is serious about making sure the alcohol products manufactured by Chinese-owned company, Skyline Ltd, comply with local laws.
The Government is so serious the Prime Minister has threatened to deport the Chinese owner of the company if they are found to be in violation of the law.
The Prime Minister made the point in Parliament in response to concerns about the Olioli wine raised by Independent Member of Parliament, Laaulialemalietoa Leuaatea Schmidt.
The former Cabinet Minister said he was extremely concerned about reports of incidents attributed to the consumption of the products.
La’auli also urged the Government to conduct a thorough investigation given that recent revelation by the Samoa Observer [over the issuance of “fake receipts”] is the reason why the price is relatively low.
Regarding the “fake receipts”, La’auli said the company has allegedly misled the government and its now being exposed.
“They reduce the prices [of the olioli because] they are not paying [certain] excise taxes and this issue has been ongoing for more than two years, but it appeared that it fell in deaf ears with the Ministry,” La'auli said.
He urged the Government not to re-open the Olioli wine processing factory.
“This Chinese company came into the country which the government fully supported and yet their actions do not benefit our country,” concluded La’auli.
But the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said the Olioli rice wine has been tested at the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa and it is safe for consumption.
The Samoa Observer reached out to Skyline Samoa Company Liaison Officer, Eric, for comments but he referred the queries to their lawyer.
He refused to give a contact number.
But Prime Minister Tuilaepa took the floor and echoed the concerns raised during the debate.
“I was shocked when I read and watched interviews," he said. "I immediately informed the relevant Ministry to investigate and if this is the reality they should be closed down for good.
“And if it’s not allowed under the law, that Chinese [owner] should be deported."
Tuilaepa alleged the “issue” is the amount of sugar contained in the wine bottle.
Minister Tialavea made it clear the Olioli is not a beer rather a wine.
“We took these products to S.R.O.S. for testing and the latest was back in March and it is safe [for consumption].
"This company started in 2015 and it is owned Chinese that’s partner with a Samoan. To date, the Ministry closed down the factory that processes the wine, pending the investigation into the [receipts] and [the olioli].
“The Liquor Board also met yesterday (Monday) on this specific issue and there are laws in place the Ministry can penalize the company. “We have penalized this company."
He noted the government is also moving to have the company use a bottle instead of the plastic bottle.