Pensioners welcome $300 stimulus gift

Samoa’s population of senior citizens are thankful for an extra one-off $300 payment included in the economic relief package passed by Parliament on Tuesday.

Typically, pensioners receive a pension worth $145 a month. The pensions are included in the Government’s ‘community-scope’ stimulus package revealed in Parliament on Tuesday.

Suemalo Aleki Solomona, from Lalomanu and Vaitele Fou, said the additional funds would be a great help to his small family: a wife and three young grandchildren.

The 70-year-old father of nine said he takes his hat off to the Government for striving for what is best for the country.

Suemalo said his pension is the only stable source of income sustaining their livelihoods, apart from remittances from his children overseas and visits from children in Samoa.

“I thank the Prime Minister for this, this is how you know those who are brave during these trying times, as who else do something like this,” he said.

“This takes a burden off our shoulders, not only for us but for everyone else who are working with the elderly in their households and do not have enough to go around, this will help out their families greatly.”

“After coming back from N.Z., I spent more than 10 years working for the Government and this feels like a great reward this time around, especially for us who've spent years paying taxes.”

Another senior citizen, 68-year-old Maria Koreti echoed very similar remarks saying it is a relief to get an additional “not one, not two but three hundred talā”.

The mother from Malie is also another householder whose only stable income is a monthly pension.

“None of my children are employed and most stay with their spouses’ families, and so it’s just my son, his wife and children here with me,” she said.

“My son sells german buns on the road for a living while my pension is mostly saved for our church obligations. It is what we turn to for extra or emergency spendings.”

Despite the budget being tight, Ms. Koreti said as long as there is faith and works to back it up, life will continue to be good.

“Although it would be nice if they did not only do it for one month, but maybe a whole year,” she smiled.

The Senior Citizens’ Benefit Fund (S.C.B.F.) is applicable to a citizen or permanent resident of Samoa who is 65-years-old and above.

Last year, the Government allocated $18 million for the pension, with a $10 tala increase to the amount of pension bringing it to its current $145 a month.

During the debate about the rise last January, the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, was very specific about one thing.

“The financial assistance is to help the senior citizens but it was not intended for their children, grandchildren and great-great grandchildren,” he said.

 “It is not intended to help with the daily necessities for the families.

“It appears your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are depending on this benefit which has been put aside for the senior citizens.

“When I hear complaints by the senior folks, that this is not enough; then maybe it is time to consider increasing the eligibility age to 80 or 90.”

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