Government blind to plight of elderly

Thursday May 17, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Dennis Tunui (centre) addresses members of the pensioner activist group at a rally at MFEM’s offi ces, back in October 2013. Tunui was then president of the Grey Power organisation. 17063052 Dennis Tunui (centre) addresses members of the pensioner activist group at a rally at MFEM’s offi ces, back in October 2013. Tunui was then president of the Grey Power organisation. 17063052

Dear Editor,

There simply has to be a change of government after the election on June 14.

The CIP government must not be allowed a third term in office. Ill treatment of New Zealand-paid pensioners by Henry Puna’s CIP government that is still ongoing must be brought to an end. Favouring one group of people against another cannot be tolerated.

They can install all the solar panels they like, add more Air New Zealand flights to swell our “nest egg” and wire us up for instant everything, but turning a blind eye on the plight of the elderly and needy is unforgivable.

While the CIP government is content in continuing to tax the suffering pensioners, the Democratic Party and One Cook Islands movement have declared since 2014 and again this year, that if elected, they will abolish the stigma of enforcing pensioners by this Government to pay tax for the past eight years.

This is not a vote-inducing ploy; they were merely trying to right the wrong created by this money-hungry government.

The decision not to tax pensioners was a landmark chapter in the constitution of the CIP, endorsed by Papa Arapati (former premier the late Albert Henry), right from the beginning.

His legacy stood unwavering for 48 years (1965-2013) two years before we came together, took to the streets to celebrate our defaulted 50th anniversary of self-government in free association with New Zealand.

I believe the CIP government lied to the people during the 2010 campaign by not owning up that they would eventually tax the pensioners. To do so at that stage would have been political suicide for them. They did not show their evil intent until March 2013, three years into their first term in office.

What transpired between a Richard Neves-driven CIP government to tax and backtax pensioners and a determined Grey Power movement resisting it is history.

But suffice to say that without Richard Neves, there would have been no back-tax and without back-tax, there would have been no Grey Power. Without Grey Power the government would not have had egg on their face when they were directed by parliament to reimburse $400,000 of enforced back-tax money from our members. The CIP government-initiated law to back-tax three years from 2013 was also thrown out.

In 2016 finance minister Mark Brown boasted of a $55 million surplus in the economy. In 2017 it reached $61 million. With such unprecedented high returns, I ask, was there need to trample Papa Arapati’s legacy and tax the mamas and papas? Take away our contribution in the equation, and he would still have $40 million to crow about.

Like everyone else, every time we buy from the shops, pay our power and phone bills or other payments, we get charged 15 per cent VAT. This, I think, is ample contribution by us pensioners into the system to boost our economy.

According to OCI leader Teina Bishop in CINews May 1 2018, income generated from VAT has grown from $35.4 million to a predicted $58 million for 2017-2018.

A Democratic Party/OCI government will set free over 200 Cook Island Mamas and Papas in their 70s, 80s and 90s who are heavily indebted with tax arrears brought upon their heads by this CIP government when they came into power eight years ago.

In late 2017 Mark Brown went to the extreme of forgiving over 1,000 chronic tax evaders of their $18 million putunga moni kaiou to the tax department while we, the vulnerable pa Metua, were left in the lurch.

True to the CIP campaign motto, “Make it Happen”, they made the unthinkable happen alright. How? Because a snap election was schemed to follow this devious move.

If we no longer have to pay tax it will give us the same feeling of relief and a smile on our faces, experienced by those who were forgiven their tax burden.

Not having to pay tax will add an extra $200 in our hands, per month. And it is very much needed, in this very expensive environment where our everyday needs around the house cost us so much.

Ultimately, doing away with pensioner tax will restore the true Christian principles and values of love, respect and dignity kite au metua pakari that were inherent in all our former leaders and their governments but lacking in the present line-up of Henry Puna and co.

            Time for them to go!

            Ka rirei e, ka rirei e. Tukia!

Leave a comment