Most of $503.7m from seasonal workers, Minister claims

By Ivamere Nataro 15 February 2019, 12:00AM

Most of the remittances received by Samoa is from seasonal workers.

This is according to the Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.

How much exactly he did not say.

But he made the point when he was asked about the significant contribution by Samoans overseas to the local economy with reference to remittance figures released by the Central Bank of Samoa for the financial year 2017/18.  

During an interview with the Weekend Observer, it was put to the Minister that for the last financial year, Samoa recorded about $503.73 million tala in remittances with the majority coming from New Zealand and Australia. 

“Does that include the seasonal workers and that?” Tialavea questioned. 

“It’s different between them because we hardly got to that, so break away the remittance from seasonal workers and the people who live there because most of that is from the seasonal workers that the Government sent to work there. 

“Other than that, I don’t know anything else.”

Tialavea added the money is sent straight to the families of those living overseas and not to the Government. 

“The money goes to the family for the fa’alavelaves (domestic obligations like funerals). They are sending money back to their family, it’s good for them they sending money to them. 

“It’s not like they are sending money directly to the Government to spend.” 

The Minister said remittances are very important for Samoa.

“It’s good for any country who receives remittance. Even Fiji they receive remittance from Fijians living and working here and Filipinos too. It’s a two way stream, it’s the same everywhere but they are sending it to their families and not to the Government. 

“I don’t think they will send any money, they know it’s for the Government and Government is going to use it, but you have to pay taxes on anything they buy from here, and they pay GST.” 

The Minister was also asked on other sources of revenue and that remittances nearly half the Government’s 2018/19 financial budget, which was $932.92 million tala. 

“The source of revenue is easy, income tax, duty, fees etc. I’m collecting taxes and other fees,” Tialavea said, adding he is unsure if remittance is the largest foreign exchange earner because some come from loans. 

Tialavea declined to comment when asked if Samoans overseas were to cease sending money, what impact this would have on the economy. 

“No I can’t answer that,” he said. 

The Minister is hopeful his Ministry will reach the $524 million tala target before the next budget is passed in July. 

By Ivamere Nataro 15 February 2019, 12:00AM

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