Millions that could have been put to better use

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s sad that as more and more children resort to a life of begging and selling small goods on the streets to help their families get by; the government is allowed to get away with wasting millions in projects that don’t work.

These millions could easily make a massive difference in the lives of the poorest people in this country today. And it is why we believe someone must hold the government – let alone the public servants responsible - to account for these decisions. 

After all, we’re not talking about a few hundred talas. We are talking about millions. Millions that could have been spent to improve health, education, income generating opportunities and more.

Last Sunday, the leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Palusalue Fa’apo II, said the government’s “reckless spending” has driven the country’s foreign debt to more than a billion tala, threatening the future of young Samoans who will end up having to pay this debt.

To be fair to the government, some of the debt is justified because without such borrowing, it would have been impossible for Samoa to solely rely on revenue it generates to fund necessary development projects. 

We are talking about infrastructure, utilities and our basic needs.

But it is projects deemed as a waste of time and money that we are concerned about.

“For example, the government had dumped $20 million tala into a failed wharf project,” Palusalue said about the Satitoa Wharf.

Now let us tell you a little bit about the Satitoa wharf. Built to make travel between the two Samoas quicker and cheaper, the initial idea was potentially sound. But there were some problems. 

While the first wharf was being built, it was found that deepening the passage between the two islands there to allow big ships into the lagoon to moor was impossible since some things in life simply cannot be touched.

To cut a long story short though, millions more ended up being spent to fix the problem.

The question is, looking back now, was the use of those millions justified? And how – if any – of the money has been recovered? 

If the answer is no, shouldn’t the officials responsible be held to account for such a waste?

But then that was just one of many poor decisions we’ve seen.

“The former Minister of Finance spent nearly a million tala in an office that’s just sitting there,” Palusalue reminded. 

We don’t need to say much about this any more as this mess has been well detailed in the media. Suffice to say, that office was a total waste of money.

What’s worse is that the Minister responsible received a small slap on the wrist and today he is among some public servants who continue to behave as if they are indispensible. 

Which is heart breaking especially when you take a good look around Samoa and you’ll find that as people are suffering from poverty, lack of income and the immense demand of everyday Samoan life, these officials show off their lifestyle of entitlement thinking that access - and subsequently the abuse - of expensive public properties costing you and me our hard-earned taxes is their right.

Getting back to Palusalue’s crusade against the waste millions, he continued: “We need to look at the millions being spent on the salaries of Associate Ministers too. This is money we could easily divert to better use.”

 “Remember that more than five million tala was spent on that building at Faleata that is now being occupied by ghosts. And that’s just one building. There are other buildings where millions have been spent.”

Overall, Palusalue said if the government was prudent with these millions, the country wouldn’t be in the precarious situation it has found itself in terms of its foreign debt.

“If you look at such reckless spending, that’s a lot of money,” Palusalue said. 

“The money that can be saved from these bad investments and misuse of financial resources could build villages access roads, make electricity and water accessible to all families, create more employment, raise salaries for underpaid professionals and raise the pension for the elders.”

Palusalue is absolutely right and we couldn’t agree more. What do you think? 

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