Government confirms V.A.G.S.T. increase moves

By Sarafina Sanerivi ,

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PRIME MINISTER: Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

PRIME MINISTER: Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. (Photo: File)

The government has not ruled out the possibility of raising the Value Added Goods and Services Tax (V.A.G.S.T.).

Standing at 15per cent today, it is one of the taxes being reviewed as part of the Ministry of Revenue’s efforts to review all existing laws on income tax. 

The Minister of Revenue, Ti’alavea Tionisio Hunt, told the Sunday Samoan the V.A.G.S.T. is definitely being reviewed.

“For the V.A.G.S.T, there might be an increase but not a big one,” he said. 

“It will just be two and a half cents. But nothing has been finalized yet.”

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, also confirmed the plan.

 “I’ve heard stories about it, and I heard that an extra two cents will be added to the existing cost of V.A.G.S.T,” Tuilaepa said.

He went on to say that this is just a “small raise.” 

“That’s not a big raise,” he said. 

“Most of us don’t even care about two cents. We leave our two cents laying around and we don’t care about it most of the time. So we don’t really need to worry about anything.”

Tuilaepa said an increase has to be approved by Cabinet first.

Asked about criticisms of the government’s decision to tax pastors from members of the church, Tuilaepa said members of the clergy should “go and read their Bibles.” 

 “Pastor’s should go back and read the bible; Jesus also paid tax in the Bible,” he said. 

 “So they should pay tax; they shouldn’t oppose the proposal as well, instead they should say that we should’ve have done this a long time ago." 

“The Bible is clear, Jesus said, give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.”

He went on to say that the idea to review all existing laws is so that anyone who earns an income must pay tax. 

“There are other pastors who are paying taxes,” he said. “But there are also pastors who are not paying taxes. Those who are looking after parishes are the ones who are not paying taxes, only the ones who are working at the office as administrators.

“The law is that, anyone who earns an income should pay tax. So wherever they get the money from, it is all included under the category that they are earning an income.”

Tuilaepa said he understands that no one likes the idea of paying tax. 

“Even me, I hate paying tax." 

“No one likes paying tax. And that’s the main reason why we have made laws to make sure that everyone pays tax, for the development of our country." 

“It’s natural for people to disagree and get mad at the government for this, but it’s for the betterment of the country."

“The thing is; some are saying that the government shouldn’t touch the offerings given to pastors as those have already been ordained."

“Yes, the money that is given to the pastors has been ordained. So once they receive this money, they will take away what is theirs and they will take away the portion of the money, which has been set aside for Caesar." 

“Romans 13, reads, let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." 

“The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.

“Therefore, pay your tax.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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