Government slaps 20% duty on popular foodstuffs to discourage consumption


Barbecue is a popular dish using imported meat such a chicken, mutton flaps, turkey tails and sausages

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 26 MARCH 2018: Three of the most popular imported foodstuffs consumed locally have been taxed 20% in what Government claims to discourage consumption as they contribute to the rapid growth of lifestyle diseases.

Parliament has endorsed the 20% increase in the customs tariff for Turkey tails plus a 10% excise tax, 10% for chicken and 20% for mutton flaps.

The quality of the three most popular imported frozen meat have been deteriorating with mutton flaps and turkey tails predominantly fat and chicken to have been suspected to be chemically induced. But they remain the most accessible by ordinary families for daily consumption and chicken have become part of the Samoan faalavelaves such as funerals that can consume no less than 30 cartons in one go.

The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi sold the tariff increases by discussing the critical status of the country’s health with continuing rise in incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases that he said are caused by obesity due to the consumption of imported food such as mutton flaps, turkey tails and chicken. Hence the need to increase tax to discourage the consumption.

Tuilaepa quoted figures from the National Kidney Foundation that is treating 130 patients three times a week at a cost of $7 million talā a year. This excludes patients suffering lifestyle diseases being sent for medical treatment in New Zealand at $10 million talā a year.

Member of Parliament for Salega West, Olo Fiti Vaai asked Government to reconsider the tax on chicken as this is the only affordable food for many households. He called the Government as “without love for the people” in bringing in the increases to food.

Minister of Revenue Tialavea Tionisio Hunt said the move to increase duty is out of Governments love so that the families can continue to stay together for much longer and not premature death due to sickness caused by eating these foodstuffs.

Olo questioned the inconsistency in the public health educational programmes to counter these rising diseases.

The Bill will come become law as soon as the Head of States signs it.

In last week’s session of parliament, the duty and excise tax on other locally made products such as beer, alcohol, water and sweet soft drinks went up as well.

The Government drummed up the health problems and lifestyle diseases to justify the increases.