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Companies upset over proposal to fund medical referrals

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 3, 2012) – Business owners in American Samoa have appealed to members of the House of Representatives not to approve tax increases requested by the administration to fund the off-island medical referral program.

The government is seeking ten million dollars including from hikes in the duty on beer, other alcohol and cigarettes, higher business license fees, a $2,000 foreign corporation fee and a four-percent increase in the wage tax.

The business operators say businesses are operating at the bare minimum in the flattened economy and any increases would be passed on to consumers.

Olivia Reid Gillette says GHC Reid cannot afford the 190 percent to 250 percent increase in the excise tax for beer.

"Right now your wholesale cost of a case of beer is 28 dollars. That would increase to a minimum of over 38 dollars up to over 46 dollars - that’s wholesale. Retail, after they add on their margin, would be almost 50 dollars per case, ranging all the way up to over 60 dollars per case. Simply put, who would buy a case of beer at that price. Who would buy a bottle of beer in a restaurant or a bar."

Olivia Reid Gillette says GHC Reid would be forced to cut workers if the increase went ahead.

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