Democrats promise tax cuts, price cuts, curbs on overseas businesses, as they reveal election policies

Price and tax cuts, a review of Asian immigration, an end to the issuing of Tongan passports, curbs on travel expenses by government ministers and the establishment of a marketing authority will be on the agenda for Tonga’s Democratic Party if it is elected in November.

Party leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva said his party’s immediate priorities would also include checks on the licenses of overseas fishing vessels and a ban on fishing sea cucumbers.

Other long term party goals include increasing the fisheries budget by TP$1.3 million (NZ$834,000).

Democratic Party candidate for Vava’u 15, Kulufeinga ‘Anisi Bloomfield, said his party would prioritise people’s needs and make sure the private sector operated effectively so it could boost government revenues.

The Party would cut water and power prices by 15 percent and would increase provision of solar power in villages and outer islands.

Kulufeinga 'Anisi Bloomfield
Kulufeinga ‘Anisi Bloomfield

As a majority of Tongans relied heavily on their families overseas for food, groceries and meat, the Democratic Party would reduce charges on freight and cargoes on individual goods sent from overseas.

The Democratic Party has also said it would limit the ability of overseas businesses to send money out of the kingdom.

The issuing of Tongan passports to foreigners has been a major issue in the country since the 1980s and the Party has promised to put an end to it.

Many problems, including not paying civil servants’ salaries on time, had remained unresolved for many years. The party recognised that sorting them out was essential to the smooth running of a democratic government.

Democratic Party leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva announced the party’s policies at a retreat for party members at Nuku’alofa on September 4-6.

In his keynote speech Pohiva spoke about the vision that inspired the party in 2010.

That vision included a government run by elected members of parliament, all of whom were voted into office by the people.

Pohiva said if the Democratic Party was elected to government in November its long term goals would include:

  • Cutting water and power prices by 15%
  • Increasing the provision of solar power to villages
  • Reviewing government board memberships
  • Implementing tax cuts
  • Reducing tax charges on freight from Tongans living overseas
  • Charging taxes on local flea market to balance the reduction of charges on cargo from Tongan overseas.
  • Paying civil servants’ salary on time
  • Increasing budget for fisheries by TP$1.3 million (NZ$834,000)
  • Reinstating the Planning Department and bringing it under the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Reviewing laws for subleasing of land by lease holders
  • Mortgaging of land to limit only to 15 years
  • Creating laws to control all government national assets
  • Reviewing the current electoral systems
  • Reviewing Asian immigration policy
  • Forming laws to control Chinese depositing money overseas.

Pohiva said that if the party was elected, within six months of achieving government it would take action in the following areas:

  • All government vehicles would operate only within working hours
  • All government public servants and ministers will travel economy class when going overseas.
  • Overseas travel that had already been paid from overseas sources would not be paid for again by the government
  • All payment for government travel would be made by the Treasury
  • Taking control of ministers’ overseas travel to reduce spending
  • Reviewing government board members’ meeting policy that a one-hour meeting deserves payment for a whole day.
  • Banning fishing of sea cucumbers
  • Authorising villagers to look after their coastlines and beaches
  • Establishing a marketing authority to sell local produce and products overseas
  • Ensuring overseas fishing vessels have valid licenses
  • Reviewing government portfolios that come under one ministry

The Retreat was opened with a prayer led by President Semisi Fonua of the Siasi Tonga Tau’ataina.

The main points

  • Price and tax cuts, a review of Asian immigration, an end to the issuing of Tongan passports, curbs on travel expenses by government ministers and the establishment of a marketing authority will be on the agenda for the Democratic Party if it is elected in November.
  • Party leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva announced the party’s policies at a retreat for party members at Nuku’alofa on September 4-6.
  • Democratic candidate for Vava’u 15, Kulufeinga ‘Anisi Bloomfield, said his party would prioritise people’s needs and make sure the private sector operated effectively so it could boost government revenues.
  • Many problems had remained unresolved for many years and the Party recognised that sorting them out was essential to the smooth running of a democratic government.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news