Inquiry report delayed?

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong 18 October 2016, 12:00AM

The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry tasked to investigate the work of the Land and Titles Court Judges is scheduled to table its report before Parliament today.

But that is unlikely to happen, according to a source.

The Commission is chaired by Member of Parliament for Vaisigano No. 1, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua. He is assisted by the Deputy Speaker, Talaimanu Nafoitoa Keti, as Deputy Chairman. 

Several phone calls to Lopao’o were not answered when he was contacted for a comment. 

However, a member of the Committee who is not authorised to speak to the media, told the Samoa Observer the Commission is likely to request more time.

“The time frame given is not enough to put together the report,” said the member. 

“There were problems encountered by the Commission during the process and it hasn’t made it easier to submit the report within the time frame given.”

Parliament is scheduled to convene for its October session this morning where a number of bills will be tabled.

Among them are the Fees and Charges Amendment Bill 2016, Foundation Bill 2016, Trusts Amendment Bill 2016 and International Partnership and Limited Partnership Amendment Bill 2016.

The most sensitive is likely to be the Fees and Charges Amendment Bill 2016 to be tabled by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti. The bill proposes to increase a number of fees and charges for services provided by different government ministries.

Away from the bills, members of the public are keenly awaiting the Commission’s report into the work Judges of the Land and Titles Court.

The Commission was ordered by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in June during a Ministerial speech.

In moving a motion to establish a special Parliamentary Committee to investigate the work and performance of L.T.C. Judges, Tuilaepa told Parliament the Commission is to submit a report to Parliament for its October sitting.

According to the Prime Minister, the privilege of being an L.T.C. Judge was being abused by some Judges who are using the opportunity as “a holiday” until they reach the age of 70.

 “There needs to be checks for men and women judges of the Land and Titles Court,” Tuilaepa said.

 “If the Court does not fix its internal issues, there is a duty of the Parliament to make an order with the two third support from the M.Ps in the House…” 

Tuilaepa said Parliament could submit an application to the Head of State to remove any Judge who is not performing their role with honesty.

“There are a few concerns about the criminal Courts which include the District and Supreme Court. But 99percent of the complaints have shown distress from the public because of decisions from the Land and Titles Court.

“The truth is no matter how hard we try to make something a 100 percent, we cannot make it a 100 percent because the good wheat will always grow together with the bad ones.”

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong 18 October 2016, 12:00AM

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