Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi set the record straight in Parliament yesterday.
He made it absolutely clear that he is not the Father of the Nation, as people often address him as.
“That title is befittingly assumed by the Head of State,” Tuilaepa said.
“He is the Father of Nation. I am the Leader of country.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa made the comments during the discussion of a Ministry of Revenue Bill that will increase the cost of food items like imported chicken and the like.
The Bill will increase the Customs tariffs for lamb flaps to 20 percent, chicken to 10 percent, and also places an excise tax of 10 percent on turkey tails.
The bill was approved during its final reading in Parliament yesterday. The Bill was put through and approved after going through an expedited process.
According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the bill is critical to address growing health concerns.
He said the number of dialysis patients has increased dramatically as a result of eating unhealthy foods.
Tuilaepa encouraged Samoans to go back to farming free-range chicken and pigs as opposed to relying on cheap imported chicken.
It was at that point that he addressed the issue of people referring to him as being the father of the nation. The Prime Minister said many people think he is a fool because they only use that when they want some money from him.
"Members of the public come to see me for everything,” he said. “They come to me to help them pay the bills, for the fa’amati and food for their children.
“They then use this title of the father of the nation as if it is to lure me to help them. Let me make this clear, I am not the father of the nation. Each and every person in Samoa has their own father.
“By the way, the use of this title for me upset the former Head of State because he is the Father of the Nation.”
As for people begging him for money, Tuilaepa said he encourages them to work the land.
“I asked these people, does your family not have a pig farm or a chicken farm? Of course they lie to me.
“So Mr. Speaker, these people are lazy to go and work the farm and it is our fault because we have been very lenient and not tell them the truth to snap them out of their laziness mode.”
Tuilaepa added that this is why the Government wants to encourage the use of customary land so that people don’t develop that dependency mentality.
Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, disagreed with the bill.
He asked the Government to reconsider their decision on the taxing of imported chicken.
“Today, the average people can only afford chicken,” he said. “If it is the health side of things they are worried about, then why was the chicken allowed in the first place?
“The move to tax frozen chicken is a clear indication the government has no love for the people.”
Parliament continues on Monday.