Learning from the past

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Former Cabinet Minister Faumuina Tiatia Liuga has been in fine form lately.

Judging from what he’s been saying in Parliament, he seems to have found a renewed vigour so that he has been on fire in Samoa’s hall of power at their makeshift headquarters at Tuanaimato.

Last week for instance, he identified a new sickness in Parliament. And what could that be? Well Faumuina said in Samoa today, there are people who have become mentally slow and forgetful. 

The former Cabinet Minister claimed that the high concentration of Monosodium glutamate (M.S.G.) in noodles as the culprit. This disease, he said, has affected certain Members of Parliament. 

While he did not name anyone in particular, he said these certain Members of Parliament cannot remember what they did in the past.

Well maybe Faumuina should have told himself that first before he mouthed off. Or maybe he’s just forgotten what he did in the past?

If that was the case, Olo Fiti Va’ai, was very quick to remind him. 

Last week, he took a journey down memory lane. Thinking back to the 2007 South Pacific Games and what unfolded then, Olo called on the Government to screw the computers to the tables so that critical financial information about the Pacific Games next year do not disappear.

 “In terms of financial data, we must learn from what happened in the past,” Olo said, claiming that laptops which contained critical financial reports were lost after the 2007 South Pacific Games.

“So I urge the Minister to ensure that the computers they use in the office are screwed permanently on the desks in case they also go for a walk and leave the office again,” he said. 

“I also ask that the Office should invest in a heavy duty computer where no one can carry the computer from the office.” 

But this did not sit well with Faumuina. He strongly rejected the claims saying they had more than $8million left from what was budgeted for the Games in 2007.

He also clarified that no computers were lost from the last South Pacific Games. 

“There was an audit of accounts and the computers in question were donated to S.A.S.N.O.C. for their operation,” he said. 

“There was over $8 million that was left from the operation and everything was accounted for. There is an audit to prove that.”

Olo, however, disagreed. He insisted that the Government lost millions from hosting the Games in 2007, which is something the Government needs to consider as the nation gears up for next year’s Pacific Games.

Which brings us to a point we’ve made before and we want to highlight again. 

The leaders of this nation must carefully look at the projects they are committing our people to and ask if they are really necessary.

Listening to Olo talk about the past Games, there is a need for a proper cost and benefit analysis in relation to all these projects – including events like the Pacific Games. 

Such an analysis will require us to look to the past to determine whether all the major events we have hosted actually added value to the lives of the people of this country. 

Let’s look at some of the recent events for example. Given that there have been promises of millions to be generated for the economy, was that the case for Samoa?  How much money did we make from hosting the South Pacific Games in 2007? Was it worth it compared to the amount of taxpayer funds and aid money spent? 

Think of the S.I.D.S. conference a few years ago. Again it cost this country millions of taxpayers and aid money to host. Was it worth all the headaches and the millions in expenses? Did Samoa profit from it? And by how much?

Conversely, if we made a loss, how much was it? 

Members of the public deserve to know because up until now, these figures have remained a mystery. You see, far too often we become so excited about these projects and hosting such events with the notion that it will automatically inject “millions” of dollars into the economy.

But more often than not, history tells us the opposite. We end up having to shoulder millions in losses. What do you think?

Have a great week Samoa, God bless!

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