No path into parliament yet for Samoa’s HRPP

Tuesday 14 September 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa

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No path into parliament yet for Samoa’s HRPP
HRPP opposition members locked out of Samoa Parliament Photo: Supplied

The parliamentary status of Samoa's former ruling party remains in doubt after its members were blocked from the first session yesterday.

There were heated exchanges outside parliament as police turned back former prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his Human Rights Protection Party colleagues.

The Speaker, Papali'i Li'o Masipa'u, banned HRPP members because he said they refuse to recognise him as Speaker.

Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia said the Speaker has not yet committed to a swearing-in schedule for HRPP.

He thought the Speaker might act at the end of the budget session.

Tuilaepa, who has been highly critical of the courts, is facing contempt charges.

Samoa's prime minister said the HRPP only has itself to blame.

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa's statement came at the opening of the first sitting of the country's 17th parliament, five months after the election in April.

In her opening statement the prime minister seemed to distance herself from the speaker's decision except to say she was appalled at the tone of correspondence from the HRPP leader to the speaker.

Budget passed

Samoa's government has tabled its first ever national budget in Parliament.

Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molio'o said it's a budget aimed at "recovery, building resilience and shared prosperity for all the people of Samoa".

Target areas include improving human development, a sustainable economy, trusted governance, the environment, public works and infrastructure.

Total expenditure for the financial year 2021/22 is estimated at $US320.5 million dollars.

Revenue is expected to bring in $US285 million with the deficit met by a low interest loan.

Mulipola Anarosa said it's unfortunate the new government has inherited a debt of more than a billion tala, $US325 million, but it's committed to start reforms.

The pension for the elderly will be increased by 25 percent in November and a disability benefit is planned.

The budget also includes one-off assistance for businesses affected by the Covid-19 border lockdown, including hoteliers.

Non-government-organisations will get some funding, especially womens groups to stop violence against women and children.