30 January 2019, Apia Samoa. Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana Gidlow urged the Minister of Finanace, Sili Epa Tuioti to maintain the benefit currently received by pensioners of free rides on the ferry between Savaii and Upolu.
The Member of Parliament made the call during Parliament this week.
She said removing this benefit would have a great impact on those people including herself that are always travelling between the two islands and especially those who live in Savaii.
“Afai lava e leo fia malaga le tagata i le penefiti lea fa’amolemole aua le toesea fua ae ta’atia ai pea auā e pei e foliga mai o le a afaina ai ē o lo’o nonofo i Savaii.
The Member of Parliament argued that regular travel to Savaii was important for those who maintained connections and continued to serve their families, churches, villages and constituencies on the Big Island.
“Auā o matou lava lea e tele ina matou fa’aaogaina penisiona na e faimalaga mai ai i luga tulaga tatau ma mafuaaga talafeagai auā le tausiga o aiga, ekalesia ma tulagatofi i totonu o le malo ma le atunu’u.”
Another point that was raised by the Member of Parliament was to allow for higher pensions for those who had worked in the formal sector and laid taxes.
“You see these are people who have worked in the government and businesses and they had paid taxes,” she said.
“Lea la ua oo ina litaea ma ua le toe faiugaluega ae e tutusa lava latou penisiona ma isi e lei faigaluega.
“Pe le tatau ona iai sina faasiliga laititi mo latou ia sa lafo foi ma fai lo latou sao i le atunuu ma le malo e fesoaosani.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi quickly supported the matter raised by the Member of Parliament.
He said this is a very important issue raised by Gatoloaifaana and it should give the Minister of Finance some ideas.
“O le taimi nei e 18 miliona le tupe lea e alu I le pensiona ma e le o se tupe laititi.
“O le taua foi la o mea nei e pau lava le mea e fai ai le mea nei o sina fesoasoani mo tagata matutua o le atunuu.”
Tuilaepa says, one of the problems that he had with the pension is it seems like the whole family now depends on the elderly pensions.
He said this is not the reason why the government had come up with the pension scheme.
“Ua na o se fa’aauaumatagi, a’o lea ua vaai atu ua fa’alagolago iai fanau o fanau a fanau ma fanau a fanau a fanau.
“E le faapena ona fai le mea e fuafua tatau le seleni o lea e faapenei mai le anoano o mau mea e mo’omia e le atunu’u.”