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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Samoa Street Vendor Fees Clarification ‘Confusing’
Ministry statement inconsistent with 1998 business license law

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Feb. 19, 2013) – Explanations of who pays what to sell goods on the streets – and to which Government ministry in Samoa – have served only to confuse.

Last week the Police media spokesman and Assistant Commissioner Leaupepe Fatu Pula, said peddlers have to pay a WST$50 [US$21.18] fee to Ministry of Police before they may sell imported goods.

Police charged one repeat offender for ignoring this requirement.

Today the public relations section of Ministry of Inland Revenue (MIR) defined a peddler as someone who walks around carrying goods to sell.

MIR refined on the Police’s statement, saying a peddler who sells imported goods do indeed have to pay WST$50 to Police for a permit to operate.

Thus it is that cell telephone companies Digicel and BlueSky each pay Police the WST$50 fee for permit for the people they send out to sell or peddle credit-cards on the street.

But peddlers who sell local produce and locally-made goods are exempt from this permit.

When Police last week moved in on peddlers who were without permits, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi criticized them for interference and to leave the sellers alone. "They have better things to do," said the PM.

Today, the Assistant Commissioner Leaupepe replied, "we are doing our work described under the Police Act."

Leaupepe did explain that sellers of local produce were exempt from the permit, and would by implication, be left alone.

The difference between two types of peddlers – seller of imported goods and seller of local produce – seems to have caused a difference of view here.

Under the Business License Act 1998, a peddler’s license is different from a business license.

A peddler who is a sole trader (who does not work for a company) pays a fee of WST$220 [US$93.21] per year to Ministry of Revenue, but a company pays a business license of WST$500 [US$211].

Companies like Digicel and BlueSky pay the business license – and the WST$50 peddler’s license when they send out people to sell credit-cards in the streets.

Peddlers pay income tax of 10 percent if their income reaches WST$10,000 [US$4,236] a year.

Vendors, folk who secure a spot to sell, often a roadside one, are required to pay a business license of WST$220 a year to Ministry of Revenue.

And, if their spot is on state property, they pay an extra WST$50 to Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

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