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‘I trust Prime Minister Tuilaepa very much’

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Member of Parliament, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, says he trusts Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

However, for the sake of good governance, transparency and accountability, the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology says the Prime Minister should let go of his Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga.

“The only solution is to let him go,” Papali’i told the Samoa Observer during an interview last weekend. But if Tuilaepa does not, Papali’i asked: “Who would trust him anymore?”

Papali’i said leaders must lead by example. “I trust the Prime Minister very much,” he said.

“The only thing that has raised questions in my mind (about the Prime Minister) is that he is also an Accountant and he should understand the findings by the Auditor, which have been confirmed by the Parliamentary Committee.”

The findings in question are contained in Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele’s report to Parliament for years 2009 and 2010. The report highlights instances of “corrupt practises” in the running of some government ministries.

The incidents at the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.), under the leadership of Faumuina as Minister, are particularly alarming. In one incident, a vehicle purchase which should have cost $200,000 or less ended up costing $340,000.

Another incident involved millions of tala paid to a “middleman” for a water drilling truck that ended up costing the government nearly twice the amount than what had been initially budgeted.

According to Papali’i, the worst part is the Corporation’s failure to respond to Management Letters from the Chief Auditor. Such a failure does not reflect well on the government.

It is why he believes the Prime Minister should be bold to make a decision on Faumuina.

“The so-called transparency, accountability and good governance is not being reflected through these things, judging from what’s happening,” Papali’i said.

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Speaking about a recent six and a half hour H.R.P.P caucus meeting over Faumuina, Papali’i said he made his feelings known to Tuilaepa.

“I told the Prime Minister that Faumui doesn't love Tuilaepa, he doesn't love H.R.P.P, and he especially doesn't love the country.

“That’s why I suggested that it would be best to ask Faumui to resign.”

According to the former Finance Minister, “it wasn't just me who felt the same way. There were others.”

Another Cabinet Minister told the meeting that members of the public have lost faith in the Minister of Finance.

“Every time Faumui submits a report; I get goosebumps,” the Cabinet Minister told the meeting. Papali’i said he is unsure why Tuilaepa is reluctant to let go of Faumuina.

But the issue is dividing the party, he said. Speaking about Siumu Member of Parliament, Tuu’u Anasi’i Leota’s threat to set up a new party, Papali’i said, “Tuu’u knew the consequences (of party hopping).

Besides, “we can’t form a party by ourselves... there are only two of us...

“But Tuu’u’s frustration is the lack of action against Faumui.” Duringthecaucusmeeting,Papali'i said there were suggestions from some members for the party to make a decision on Tuu’u.

“There was no reason to make a decision on Tuu’u, these are party issues... the main issue is the case of Faumui.

“Why didn't S.L.C respond to management letters?” Papali’i said he is only speaking out because he cares about the country and people deserve to know how their money is being spent.

“My aspiration is to stop corruption,” he said. “As long as corruption is still going, I’mkeentostayintheretomakesure corruption is stopped.

“Why? It has a massive impact on the lives of people when it comes to the use of public funds, especially when I see that public servants, officials, ministers and contractors are colluding to defraud public funds.” The Officers of Parliament Committee report, which confirms the findings of the Controller and Chief Auditor’s report, will be debated in Parliament today.

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