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Tonga needs bigger investment not bigger payrolls

Pago Pago, American Samoa

It should not take a rocket-scientist to see that in vain we claim to build a Pacific Nation’s economy when the biggest chunk of the budget goes into payroll. Investment is where we should spend most of our budget instead.

Some still hold on to the old and outdated argument that increasing the buying power of the individual workers, gives them more money to spend, thus helping to build up the economy. Unfortunately, in the Pacific Islands Countries’ experience, such as Tonga, this increased earnings goes to foreign businesses such as the Chinese who send most of this back to China and very little is spent in Tonga. Let me ask …how long does this money stay in that account. I don’t think it will be too far from American Samoa’s experience…deposits are just enough money to cover their local bills on Thursday, checks go out on Friday and by Monday, there is only enough money in the account to keep the account open or in anticipation of the next payment. 

I am not surprised that the Members of Parliament enthusiastically endorsed this budget. However, I expected this from the public, for they are humans. On the other hand, members of Parliament are held to a higher standard (above regular humans like us) … much more sacrifice is expected and required from them as leaders.

I remember [an African general] of many years ago saying at the opening of Parliament, “today, I give myself two medals (diamonds on gold) and a pay raise…I know it is tough…but that’s life.” Last evening, I realized that the demand has been increasing, but each year they are giving me less….

- Desert WarLord