Pensioners to get $10 talā a month increase in $19.4m Supplementary Budget

Parliament in session at the Tui Atua Conference Centre this morning.

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 24 DECEMBER 2018: Increasing the pension from $135 to $145 talā a month is part of the $19.4 million tala Supplementary Budget 2018/2019 tabled by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti in Parliament today.

The Minister also tangled a Christmas present for public servants when he announced the first payment of a salary adjustment for all public servants to be paid out in January 2019.

The 3 phase pay-out is a Cost of Living Salary Adjustment (COLA) and will begin with a 5% increase for all personnel from Principals and below and a 3% increase for all Assistant Chief Executive Officers up to CEOs.

Then come January 2020, all Principals to below CEO’s will get another 3% increase while a 3% increase will be introduced for CEO’s, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and members of the Judiciary.

In January 2021, all public servants including members of Parliament will receive a final pay increase of 2% to complete the implementation of the 2019 COLA.

Sili said the supplementary budget includes $2.1million in development project initiatives received from development partners following the approval of the Main Estimates in June 2018. These finances will go directly to projects as per the Memorandums of Understanding with these organizations.

“This continues on with the theme of The Right Path in that it has been reviewed with the intent to ensure that the balance between the competing priorities of Government and the provision of essential services for the citizens of Samoa is maintained,” said Sili.

“I am also pleased to announce that Samoa’s economy grew 0.7% in 2017/18, although lower than projections, it still reflects the effects of the developments within the country which are still in initial stages of implementation,” said Sili.

The Tourism Sector was commended as the main drive in the economy grow due to the many regional and global meetings hosted in Samoa in the past months, such as the Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum, the Pacific Forum Leaders’ Meeting, the Global Breadfruit Summit and the Pacific Ministerial Shark Symposium.

He said the launching of the Tui Samoa cable had also contributed to this growth in the communication sector.

Minster of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti (Right) with Cabinet colleague Lautafi Selafi Purcell

Summary of Revenues
The new and additional revenues amount to $11.3 million in new development project grants such as the $4.1 dividends received from Government Corporations, $3 million from partnership with the New Zealand Government, and $2.1 million increase of the VAGST Private Sector.

He said the total funds expected as a result of the reallocation of existing budget resources will generate $5.97 million include:

  • $5.8million from the Statutory Vote – These are $1.3 million in savings accumulated from appropriations to cover the cost of foreign exchange, $3.3 million savings from VAGST refunds based on accounts currently with the Ministry for Revenue and $1.2 million savings from domestic debt servicing due to completion of Polynesian Airlines’ loan with the UTOS;
  • $165,000 from the Ministry of Finance – Identified savings from counterpart funds appropriated for the Vaisigano Bridge as well as the Agribusiness Project.

Summary of Additional Expenditures:
The total amount of additional current payments exclusive of development projects is totaled $17.3 million, and $5.2 million to the 36 Ministries and Corporations financed under the Main Estimates to facilitate the COLA to be effective in the first pay of January 2019.

The $2.1 million in Development Expenditures being declared in this Supplementary Estimates were assistance from the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, NZ MFAT and UNEP.

In conclusion, Sili said the Supplementary Budget is the product of “careful consideration to ensure macroeconomic stability is maintained and at the same time Government is in a position to deliver the services demanded by the public.”

After the tabling of the Supplementary Budget, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi acknowledged the Minister and Ministry of Finance and then moved a motion to postpone Parliament to 22 January 2019.

The oldest and longest serving Member of Parliament Aeau Peniamina Leavai took the floor on behalf of MPs to wish Samoa a Happy and safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Today’s Parliament proceedings were conducted at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi Building at Sogi.