F.A.S.T. "numerically illiterate": Afamasaga

A Member of Parliament has called the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party “numerically illiterate” over its promise to increase the minimum wage amongst other financial improvements declared by the party. 

Minister of Communications Information and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai criticised the new political party’s agenda in Parliament on Wednesday in between the Parliamentary Finance and Expenditure Committee’s presentation by Chairwoman M.P., Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau. 

“I am saddened this morning because most of the historical matters raised by the Prime Minister and the presentation by the Committee Chairwoman are issues that were raised by the members who are absent right now,” said Afamasaga. 

“Most of the matters were raised by Fiame, as well as Laauli and yet they are not here to listen and understand these clarifications Mr. Speaker.

“One of the critical areas the Chairwoman mentioned is what they are currently declaring to increase, minimum wage, saying when they come [to power] they will lift it by a talā.”

Lotofaga’s Fiame Naomi Mata’afa; Urban West’s Faumuina Wayne Fong; Salega East’s Olo Fiti Vaai and Gagaifomauga No. 3’s Laauli Leuatea Schimdt have not attended Parliament since last week. 

The quad had instead chosen to attend the F.A.S.T. Party's series of roadshows in Savai’i. 

Continuing his speech, Afamasaga recalled a conversation with a businessman who employs 200 plus Samoans, where he asked how an increase in minimum wage would impact his business.

“He said, an increase of a dollar an hour for 200 people will incur an extra $200; 40 hours a week, he will incur $8000 extra; 52 weeks a year, this means he will incur $416,000 for the additional $1,” he said.

“This means it is almost half a million extra needed for the company in one year, so I asked him how would he resolve the problem, and he said, there is only one answer, I will have to lay off 100 employees.

“Because if I increase the prices of the goods to accommodate this, I don’t know how people would want to buy from my supermarkets.

“Mr. Speaker as we heard yesterday, the literacy rate is very low. But we know now, being numerically illiterate is a big problem on this side." 

However, in the written F.A.S.T. manifesto, there is no record of a promise to increase the minimum wage.

Written on pamphlets they have been handing out at their roadshows, the manifesto outlines F.A.S.T. promises to increase the number of job opportunities in the country within five years by 20,000, and improve the pay and benefits of public servants. 

The document also assures of a review and rearrangement of Government priorities, as well as an emphasis on employee unions. 

Afamasaga also condemned the independent M.P.s' absence saying it seems they have disregarded the authority of the Speaker of the House and the integrity of Parliament.

“It has been three days since they missed out, plus Thursday and Friday of the previous week; I don’t understand if whether or not there is another step we can take to address this issue.” 

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