Businesswoman Moe Lei Sam who is not a stranger to voicing her strong opinions about the Government has criticized the $10 tala increase on the senior citizen pension.
Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti made the announcement during the last sitting of Parliament on Friday 24 December, confirming that the 10 tala raise would be effective in 2019.
Ms Lei Sam told Samoa Global that $145 tala per month is not enough compared to the cost of living.
“It’s just a lousy $10 tala extra!” she said.
“The cost of living is sky rocketing and yet government only approved $10 tala extra to be added to our pension?”
“This is not a weekly payment, it’s once a month that we get this, and it is very low compared to other countries.”
The 67-year-old went on to share that some people may criticise her and think that she is being ungrateful, however, she said that it was important to voice her concerns on behalf of those who cannot or will not speak out.
“You see, many come from the rural area,” she said.
“So for example, a $10 tala bus fare from the rural area to town, an elderly will have to spend $20 tala on bus fare alone.
“That leaves $125, then there’s village and church commitments..we all have to give money to those.
“By the time they spend on those they will probably be left with just $40tala to last them until the next month.
“You see, like I said this is not enough, especially for us Samoans, we are faced by so many faalavelaves.
“$145 per month is nothing.”
Asked for a solution from her perspective, Ms Lei Sam said the government should consider lowering their salaries, and use savings to top-up pensions for the elderly.
“I’m talking about the Cabinet, CEO’s ACEO’s Principal Officers and so forth,” she said.
“Some government ministries have more than five ACEO’s and how many Principal Officers? Why don’t they cut down.. have just one Assistant Chief Executive Officer and maybe four or five principal officers, and save the money that is spent on those people to up the pension.
“I’m sure every ministry will be okay with just the Minister, CEO, then one ACEO and one Principal Officer and then the staff members are there to help them out,” continued Ms Lei Sam.
A 71-year-old elderly of Tuana’i, Savali Tupa’i shared a more optimistic view and said that she is grateful that the announcement was not a decrease in the pension.
“At least it’s something for us who are not working anymore,” she said.
“What can we do if the government had decided to cut our pension, I’m actually grateful that they are thinking of us.
“Yes it’s a bit small compared to the cost of living but at least it’s something.”
Pensioner Potoa’e Unasa of Lefaga said she is thankful that she doesn’t have to work and yet she gets money every month.
“We all know that if we don’t work we don’t get anything but at least the government is thinking about us.
So whatever amount the government gives I am just glad because that money is helping out my family.”