WITH two weeks away from the Rugby World Cup in England the ‘Ikale Tahi rugby team gained a lot of support in Parliament yesterday.
The Minister of Internal Affair Hon. Fe’ao Vakata announced that Government has contributed more than $200,000 towards the team’s preparation for the upcoming Rugby World Cup set to begin on September 18, 2015.
He also mentioned that Government has also put aside $680,000 to assist the team with their weekly allowance. Reports from Tonga Rugby Union CEO say there’s hope to increase the player's allowance to $2000 a week.
The Minister of Inland Revenue Services Hon. Tevita also announced a five percent deduction in income tax of any privately owned businesses that contribute financially to sports in Tonga including the ‘Ikale Tahi rugby team. Lavemaau explained that according to the law when a business donates to any sports five percent is deducted from their sales tax. .
The Chairperson of the Whole House Committee Semisi Sika urged Members to support a fundraising drive next Friday led by Hon. Lupepau’u Tuita Taione in selling chairs for $1000 each.
Sika also challenged the MPs to contribute to a good cause in support of our ‘Ikale Tahi team.
Vava’u 15 MP Samiu Vaipulu was also in favour of whatever Parliament decides to assist the ‘Ikale Tahi with. He also called on Cabinet to act promptly and amend the law or regulation to increase the income tax deduction from five to ten percent of local businesses that provide financial assistance to ‘Ikale Tahi or any sports in Tonga.
Vaipulu hopes that Cabinet tables it when the House resumes Monday morning.
Since the House was scheduled half day to allow MPs to attend a funeral of Niuafo’ou Government Representative support of ‘Ikale Tahi dominates much of its debate on Thursday.
The Hon. Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism also called for a nationwide celebration at Vuna Wharf on September 18th in support of our team. The public is notified to wear red and attend the program where they could eat and dance from 4pm until 4am the next day.
Meanwhile the Agricultural and Fishery Minister, Semisi Fakahau also brought to the House's attention about Tonga’s uniqueness in the last World Cup as they stand united to support our rugby team.
“It tells different parts of the world we Tongans are unique and that we stand united as one people,” explained Hon. Fakahau.
Hon Fakahau urged the nation to utilise the spirit of togetherness during World Cup period to enlighten students, we are one people and that nothing can forged our differences.
"We stand united in whatever we do to support our team, but should involve students for this is a crucial matter to Tonga and its people," explained Hon. Fakahau
Lord Vaea said it’s interesting to see the support given to our team for majority of the contracted players play in Britain, France and Italy. He also iterated the need for supporters to actively support our team and boost it to a higher level when Tonga play against Argentina and New Zealand’s All Black.
He said the ‘Ikale Tahi first two games are alright but the match against Argentina is high time for support for our team is gaining momentum.
Vaea said the Pumas is a good and strong team that won against South Africa, but Tonga needs to win that game to qualify for the next round. Lord Vaea said not long after that, Tonga will play against the All Black.
Therefore he suggested support for the ‘Ikale Tahi should gain momentum during these two games.
Parliament pledges support to 'Ikale Tahi after a call was made by Vava'u number 2 Noble Representative Lord Tu'ilakepa.
The Acting Speaker Lord Tu'i'afitu has also directed Tongatapu 2 MP Semisi Sika to liase with Cabinet Ministers on programmes to support our team and to report this in Parliament on Monday.