20 November, 2017
PARLIAMENTARY SITTING SUMMARY- 30th May 2017

PARLIAMENTARY SITTING SUMMARY- 30th May 2017

The Assembly reconvened on Tuesday 30th May at 9:00am for its parliamentary sitting. The following summary provides an overview of business which was put before the Assembly, Members who participated in debates and various issues which were raised in regards to particular Bills.

 12 Annual Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 49 by the Samoa Post Office; Samoa Shipping Services, Samoa International Finance Authority; Ministry of Police; Samoa Tourism Authority; Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour; Unit Trust of Samoa, Samoa Tourism Authority; Samoa Life Assurance Corporation; Samoa Land Corporation; and the Fire and Emergencies Services Authority.

 16 Parliamentary Committee Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 52(5). These reports included 2 from the Standing Orders, Electoral, Petitions and Constitutional Offices Committee; 4 from the Finance and Expenditure Committee; 2 from the Social Sector Committee; 3 from the Economic Sector Committee and 5 from the Infrastructure Committee.

 2 Regulations were tabled, namely the SR 2017/4, Electricity (Fees) Regulations 2017 and the S.R. 2017/5, Public Services Amendment Regulations 2017.

 2 Bills were first read, the: Appropriation Bill 2017/2018 and the Stamp Duty Amendment Bill 2017 which was introduced under a Certificate of Urgency.

 2 Bills were second read: the Appropriation Bill 2017/2018 and the Stamp Duty Amendment Bill 2017. The Appropriation Bill now stands referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee.

 3 Bills were considered in detail: the Stamp Duty Amendment Bill 2017 (COU); the Constitution Amendment (No.1) 2016 and the Constitution Amendment (No.2) 2016. These Bills were then third read and passed the Assembly on the same day.

  1. Parliamentary Commission motion

NAFOITOA Talaimanu Keti, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission, moved a motion that the Assembly approve the establishment of the Samoa Parliamentary Advocacy 2

Group for Healthy Living (SPAGHL) and its membership. The SPAGHL will consist of 15 Members of Parliament and 5 Officials.

  1. Overview of Bills considered by the Assembly
  2. The Appropriation Bill 2017/2018 was first read then second read, and the Hon Minister of Finance, SILI Epa Tuioti, delivered the budget statement before the Bill was referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee.
  3. The Stamp Duty Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced under a Certificate of Urgency which permits the Assembly to first read, second read, consider in detail and third read a Bill on the same sitting day. Members who spoke on the Bill included:
  4. ALIIMALEMANU Alofa Tuuau, Member for Alataua West (HRPP);
  5. SULUMANAIA Fetaiai Tuivasa, Member for Vaimauga East (HRPP);
  6. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
  7. LOPAOO Natanielu Mua, Member for Vaisigano No.1 (HRPP);
  8. LEALAILEPULE Rimoni Aiafi, Member for Faleata West (HRPP);
  9. Hon FAUMUINA Tiatia Faaolatane Liuga, Member for Palauli le Falefa (HRPP);
  10. Hon TUILAEPA Auelua Faitalofa Lupesoliai Lolofietele Neioti Aiono Galumalemana Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP);
  11. FUIMAONO Teo Samuelu Teo, Member for Falealili East (HRPP);
  12. LAUOFO Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP); and
  13. Hon SILI Epa Tuioti, Minister of Finance and Member for Faasaleleaga No.1 East (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:

  1. The Member for Alataua queried if there was a possibility of tabling all Bills which should be read together with the Stamp Duty amendment (complimentary) at the same time. The Member stated that this would enable Members to contextualise the individual provisions of the Bill, particularly in terms of their effect on other types of taxation and the sale of land processes. The Member also queried how the Bill’s provisions would impact the sale of assets which were acquired tax-free.
  2. The Member for Vaimauga East noted his concern over the possible delays that may be faced by land buyers if they are unable to register their purchased land until the

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seller has paid their capital gains tax. The Member also suggested whether the timeframe for capital gains could be increased to 10 years, noting that the current timeframe is 3 years.

  1. The Member for Urban West noted that despite the amendment affecting a small number of land buyers, he stated that those who the law would impact that most are the individual sellers who have the least amount of money. The Member stated that the amendment could possibly make it difficult for the average person (as opposed to large companies etc.) to make their first land purchase.
  2. The Member for Vaisigano No.1 also raised concerns over possible delays to buyers in registering newly purchased land, as this would be dependent on the seller first paying their capital gains tax.
  3. The Member for Faleata West noted his support for the Bill; however, he pointed out that land costs continually fluctuate owing to taxes. The Member noted that the taxation rate would vary due to the cost of land and therefore suggested that land valued below $100,000 have a different tax rate (not 27%) from land valued at over $100,000. The Member also requested that the Ministry look into the existing processes for the transfer and disposal of assets (specifically land), where many people gift land to others in order to avoid paying capital gains tax.
  4. The Member for Faleata West’s query regarding the gifting of land to avoid paying capital gains tax was also reiterated by the Member for Palauli le Falefa. The Hon Prime Minister clarified that gifting to one’s children is tax avoidance which should be differentiated from tax evasion. He stated that despite some people using this procedure to avoid taxation, he stated that at some point most land owners will attempt to sell their land. He stated that the purpose of the amendment was to enable proper monitoring of land sales to impose capital gains tax when it is applicable, which is a process that is not effective at this time.
  5. The Members for Falealili East raised concerns over the possible process for the sale of assets which were acquired tax-free and the Member for Anoamaa West emphasised the possible roadblocks to land buyers in awaiting the payment of capital gains tax by sellers.

The Bill was then considered in detail, third read and passed the Assembly to become an Act of Parliament upon assent by O Le Ao o le Malo. 4

III. The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.1) 2016

The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.1) was considered in detail together with the Report from the Standing Orders, Electoral, Petitions and Constitutional Offices Committee. All 5 clauses were approved as well as the Committee’s amendment to change the year of the Bill from 2016 to 2017.

The bill was then third read and passed the Assembly and will become an Act of Parliament upon assent by O Le Ao o le Malo.

  1. The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.2) 2016

The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.2) was considered in detail together with the Report from the Standing Orders, Electoral, Petitions and Constitutional Offices Committee. The 2 clauses were approved as well as the Committee’s amendment to change the year of the Bill from 2016 to 2017.

The bill was then third read and passed the Assembly and will become an Act of Parliament upon assent by O Le Ao o le Malo.

Parliamentary proceedings were adjourned at 12:07pm. The House will reconvene at 9:00am, Wednesday 21st June, 2017.

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