Olo denies pension age claim

M.P. Olo Fiti Vaai says claims that the Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party is planning to lower the age for qualifying for the aged pension show the Government is being misinformed.

Olo says that the F.A.S.T. manifesto makes no mention of such a policy; however, it is something that is commonly mentioned by members of the public who have spoken during the roadshow series. 

Olo is an Independent M.P. but has registered to run as a F.A.S.T. candidate for the newly formed Salega No. 2 constituency in April’s General Election.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi suggested a need to eliminate legally eliminate treasonous remarks by rival political parties. Speaking to that theme he singled out what he said was F.A.S.T. party policy to drop the eligibility age for retirement, a move that would have financial implications for the Government.

Currently, a person should be 65 years old to be eligible under the Government's pension scheme. 

Tuilaepa rejected suggestions saying it will only promote laziness and "only someone desperate to be a leader would say, ignoring the negative impact it will have on the country." 

But Olo alleges this is not the first time the Government has allegedly misquoted F.A.S.T.'s long term goals.

He also clarified that F.A.S.T. does not seek to return all land under government to the respective villages. 

"We are talking about the unused lands under the government; the keyword is unused," he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

Last month, Olo urged the Government to be fair in its decision to return unused land previously owned by the German colonial administration to villages.

Speaking during the TV2 Soalepule programme with Faumuina Wayne, Olo suggested the Government’s decision should not be limited to just two constituencies. 

He said only the Letogo and Vailele villages of Vaimauga, and Vaitele of Faleata benefitted from a recent decision by the Government. He believes it should be a policy applied to many other villages with unutilized land belonging to the Government. Especially villages in Savaii and in the rural areas, Olo added.

However, M.P. Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi expressed his concerns in Parliament last week regarding the promise by F.A.S.T. saying he is worried for his constituency. 

He called the promise "deceptive" and "inconsiderate" for families of Vaitele who have already occupied the 29 acres of Vaitele lands that originated from the Government. 

"Leala needs to clean his ears with cotton buds; we were talking about unused lands, customary lands," said Olo. 

"The lands we are talking about are different from the lands in Vaitele where he also benefitted from. 

“The policy that involved freehold lands that were turned into customary lands for the use of Vailele and such is what we are referring to." 

Another misquoted F.A.S.T. party agenda countered by the M.P. included allegations by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai that the rival party is aiming to increase the minimum wage by $1 if they are successful at the General Election. 

Afamasaga suggested that the party may be “numerically illiterate” over its promise to increase the minimum wage amongst other financial improvements declared. 

Olo rejected the claim saying F.A.S.T. does not have a proposal in their Manifesto to raise the minimum wage by $1. 

He suggested that Afamasaga should focus on whether he will return to his constituency's seat in Parliament following the election. 

"He should just make sure if he can remain in that seat for the next five years so he can understand what he is talking about; he shouldn't talk about things he does not understand," he said. "He is still a baby [in Parliament]."

Written on pamphlets the F.A.S.T. Party has 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 promises a review and rearrangement of Government priorities, as well as an emphasis on employee unions.


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