The Legislative Assembly has approved the establishment of a Select Committee to work on concerns relating to domestic airfares and ferry prices.
The select committee was approved by Parliament this morning after Vava'u 15 MP Samiu Vaipulu urges Parliament for Government action on the matter.
Hon. Vaipulu specifically called for a deduction on the extra $23 pa’anga surcharge fees on all domestic airfares by Real Tonga.
Vaipulu claims the $23 surcharge included $11.50 inclusive in all domestic air fares and another $11.50 airport charge implemented in 2008.
He added that this is illegal since Tonga Airports Limited (TAL) charges every aircraft for landing fees.
The former Deputy Prime Minister asserts it’s unlawful for an individual or any state owned enterprises to collect or impose taxes without the Parliament’s approval. He adds government has implemented projects to help with airport maintenance yet Real Tonga is collecting extra surcharges for nothing.
He shares with Parliament his disappointment and also calls for an urgent Government action to deal with the matter.
As a result, Vaipulu points out the people are suffering from paying extra surcharges which something Real Tonga claims is for airport maintenance.
In response the Minister of Public Enterprises Hon. Poasi Tei admits that Cabinet understands the disappointment and the burden people are going through. However, he points out the fee collection is for the airport maintenance which Hon. refutes as aircrafts pay landing fees.
The Speaker then directed the Select Committee to look into the matter and report back in two weeks’ time. He reiterated that the issues has been raised on various occasions but so far nothing has been done.
The select committee includes Samiu Vaipulu (Vava'u 15 MP), Tongatapu 5 MP Dr. 'Aisake Eke, Veivosa Taka (Ha'apai 13 MP) from the People Representative's Table.
The Noble Representatives include the Tongatapu Number one Representative Lord Vaea, Vava'u Number 2 Lord Tu'ilakepa & Lord Tu'iha'angana, the Number one Noble Representative of Ha'apai. Two Cabinet Ministers in the select committee are Hon. Finance Minister Tevita Lavemaau and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon. Poasi Tei.