Minister behind revenue record defeated
The man behind the Ministry of Customs and Revenue's record-breaking revenue collection effort, caretaker Minister Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has been defeated in the election according to unofficial preliminary results.
Tialavea was one of the candidates affected with the new electoral boundaries, going up against Human Rights Protection Party Whip Alai’asa Moefa’auouo Moananu in the race for the Anoamaa No. 1 seat.
Repeated efforts to get comments from Tialavea were unsuccessful, but under his tenure, Tialavea oversaw the Ministry of Customs and Revenue and the Ministry of Police and Prisons.
Over the last five years, revenue collection by the M.C.R. topped a record $2.5 billion tala with the bulk of the revenue collected being taxes owed to the Government.
Last month, Tialavea told this newspaper that it was "a milestone that should be acknowledged".
Tialavea said for the Financial Year 2015–2016 the M.C.R. collection amounted to $485.1 million; the next Financial Year 2016–2017 they collected $501.3 million.
In 2017–2018 the M.C.R. managed to collect a total of $507.6 million and in Financial Year 2018–2019, they took in $551 million. For the Financial Year 2019–2020, $551.3 million was collected.
Despite the impact of the measles epidemic in 2019 and the border closure that followed, Tialavea said the Ministry was still able to achieve their revenue targets.
He said between July 2020 and December 2020 the M.C.R. collected $258.2 million within the span of six months, though the project target was $475.4 million.
Tialavea also lead the effort to tax church ministers and the Head of State, which came to pass in 2018 when it was approved as law.
In 2019 the H.R.P.P. Gvernment moved to file charges against Ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa who had defied the law, but the case was dismissed by the District Court.
The decision delivered by Judge Leota Raymond Schuster, followed an application by the Ministry of Revenue to withdraw two charges against each defendant on the basis that there was no evidence. To date that matter is still pending.
During Tialavea's term in office, Samoa established new prisons for Upolu and Savai'i, although both projects came under a lot of scrutiny by the public.
The cost for the two prisons were $18.2 million for the Tanumalala prison and $600,000 for the prison at Vaia’ata in Savaii.