Tax on chicken cruel, cold and heartless

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The Government’s plan to slap an extra tax on imported chicken is cold and heartless. That much cannot be denied.

While Tuilaepa’s administration is riding on the health ticket in a bid to make this newest tax discussed in Parliament last week easy to swallow, nothing can be further from the truth. 

This has nothing to do with health. It’s just an excuse.

Rather, it has everything to do with the Government’s plan to continue to tax every member of the public to the bone so that in the end, they can extract every last sene – even from the people who cannot afford it.

The truth is it is a cold and calculated move that will only make life even more miserable for the poorest people in this country. 

We are talking about thousands of Samoans who are already struggling.

For the past years, the pages of this newspaper exist to tell of their hardship, struggles and just how hard life has been. Indeed, the Samoa Observer’s Village Voice has been making some eye-opening disclosures with stories about the “reality” of living in “paradise”. 

These stories without a doubt would dent our egos and bring us back to reality. They are the sorts of stories those in power don’t want the outside world to know. Even some village leaderships and church people in Samoa would deny outright what’s being told by these people. 

But we don’t make up these stories. Contrary to what Prime Minister Tuilaepa said that all news in Samoa is not real news, these stories are taking place right here in our backyards.

Many of these families don’t have a steady supply of drinking water. They live in slum like huts where they sleep on rocks because the floors of their homes are not cemented. They are families without electricity.

In some of these cases, they are families of more than 10 people with only one person working and probably being paid the minimum wage of $2.30 an hour.

This is the cold truth about living in Samoa today. 

For some families, many children are not attending school. 

Either the parents cannot afford to send them to school or the children are forced to become breadwinners – even from a very young age. That is why on the streets of Apia – and just everywhere else now – there are children hawking goods at all hours of day and night. 

Some of them are sleeping on the cold floor of street corners and public buildings. It is a heartbreaking sight.

So how can we not feel for them?

The stories of mothers trying their very best to make ends meet, grandmothers who continue to toil day in and day out, fathers and husbands working the land and many other heartbreaking stories of struggles and hardship. 

Regardless of the circumstances, when we look at the minimum wage of $2.30 an hour compared to the cost of living – and the millions wasted through mismanagement, collusion, abuse of power and corrupt practices within the government - don’t you think this just downright cruel, immoral? 

This is why we say the Government’s decision to add another tax on the cost of a box of imported chicken is cold and heartless. 

Anyone who lives in Samoa and familiar with the reality of day-to-day Samoan living knows the truth. It is chicken day everyday for the simple reason that today in Samoa, it is the most affordable meat source there is. 

So from Sunday to Sunday throughout the whole year, chicken is cooked in a variety of different ways to make evening meals a bit more bearable. And it’s not just the poorest families who do this, even families with regular incomes resort to this to try and get by.

And yet this Government just cannot help itself so that soon, you and I, and every other Samoan out there – including the poorest of the poor - will have to fork out more for a pound of chicken. 

What is this country coming to? 

And when will our people decide that enough is enough? 

Tell us what you think, have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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