Minister: ‘There Is No Poverty In Samoa’

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 30, 2015) – There is no poverty in Samoa.

The only issue is that there are people who are so negligent in paying their water bills that their supply ends up being disconnected.

That was the response from the Minister of Women, Community and Social Development, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoa Lei’ataua to claims that poverty exists in Samoa.

The claims were made during the debate of the 2015-2016 budget, which continued into the night last night. For the past couple of Parliament sessions, Cabinet Ministers have been responding to claims from different Members of Parliament.

When it was Tolofuaivalelei’s turn, he countered claims by the Tautua Samoa Party that the lack of employment is causing people to live without water because they cannot pay their water bills.

"Water supply being cut from households is something that happened to my family too," Tolofua told Parliament.

"I reminded them that it got cut because they were careless in terms of paying water bills".

"It (water bill) started from $20 [US$8.50] and it climbed to $40 [US$17], $100 [US$42] until it reached $1000 [US$420] over the months…that is negligence on their part".

The Minister explained that some families received money from their relatives overseas.

"Others still get money from selling their produce but the problem with families affected is that they are careless and don’t pay up".

Tolofua warned the Opposition Leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, about making such claims.

"The Prime Minister goes around the island to see what good developments the government can come with to help people," said Tolofua. "But you Palu, you go around the island just to look for bad things to stir up trouble in the country".

Earlier, Palusalue cautioned about poverty in Samoa.

He said he was approached by a family from Tanugamalala who had their water supply cut.

"The family owes $6,000 [US$ 2,542] worth of water bill," argued Palu.

"They came to me for help because the water bill is ridiculous…there's not much water pressure in their area and they hardly have access to water".

The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Manu’alesagalala Enokati Posala took the floor. As Minister for the Samoa Water Authority, Manu’a had an explanation.

"In most cases like this, the arrears date back to 2000," he said. "It’s difficult for families to make the payments because it’s been left for too long. The workers have been out to inspect and found that there were leakages in pipes that is responsible for these expensive bills".

Manu’alesagalala also had a go at Palusalue.

"They went to the Leader of Opposition who is not doing anything good about their problem," he said.

"Instead he is complaining about it and bad mouthing the Authority".

But Palusalue insisted that the family shouldn’t have to pay for the $6,000 bill. He repeated that there is hardly any water pressure to enable the family to have access to water.

"But they are asked to pay for such an amount," he said.

Manu’a disagreed.

"If they don’t have access to water then the meter shouldn’t be rolling," said Manu’a. "The claim is absurd then". Speaker of the House, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao interrupted.

He told Parliament that some problems are caused by unqualified plumbers. La’auli reminded that a bill has been tabled in Parliament to regulate the work of plumbers and the like. Associate Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, also took the floor.

"The Opposition Leader lacks wisdom and vision," he said. But this angered Palusalue who fired back: "This happened because of you.

It happened during your time. When I talk, you sit down".

Faumuina did not back down.

"I know you Palu from your head to your toes," responded Faumuina. "So you want me to speak? I want to explain what is happening to Tanugamalala.

This is an area where many have their livestock and something similar happened to a former M.P and his water bills. The reason why the bill jumped up is because water is used (for cows)".

Samoa Observer
Copyright © 2015 Samoa Observer. All Rights Reserved

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