Tialavea: "I am not a hypocrite"

Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has refused to accept suggestions the decision to extend alcohol trading hours is “hypocritical” and clashes with the Government’s push to address alcohol-related social problems.

The Samoa Law Reform Commission has been behind recommendations to overhaul the Alcohol Act, in a bid to regulate retail stores’ trading hours and minimise crime occurring within the vicinity of alcohol-selling businesses. 

In August this year the Minister - who is also the Liquor Control Board chair - announced that taxes on alcohol would be increased. 

He cited alcohol as the main contributing factor to the surge in violent crimes from murder to rape, not to mention traffic fatalities and casualties, which he said forced the Government’s hand to increase alcohol excise. 

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But he refused to accept questions by the Samoa Observer on whether the decision by the Liquor Board to extend the trading hours was hypocritical.

“I am not a hypocrite! Alcohol problems have been there for the longest time,” he said.

When this newspaper put it to him that in August he blamed alcohol as the main contributing factors to a surge in violent crimes, he refused to accept the proposition and pointed out that the decision was made by the Board.  

“This was a decision by the entire Liquor Control Board, not just one person and it was well thought out before we concluded to accept the proposal by the small stores,” he said. 

Last month the Liquor Board announced that retail stores, hotels and restaurants can now sell alcohol from 6.00 am to 1.00 am Monday to Friday. However, on Saturdays alcohol can only be sold from 6:00 am to 12:00 am midnight. 

As reported earlier, Tialavea said the request to extend the trading hours came from retail stores. 

“This was due to the request by retail stores, this was due to popular demand from the small shops. Their claims are valid, when considering that hotels, night clubs and stores all have one goal and that is to make some money,” he said.

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