Bill to enable Met Office to make money, sue media

By Ivamere Nataro 16 August 2019, 6:00PM

The Samoa Meteorological Service says a new bill to be tabled in the next Parliament sitting will enable them to charge fees for their services and sue the media for incorrect reporting. 

The Meteorology Service said forecasts for members of the public will continue to remain free but they will consider charging aviation companies for specialist forecasts.

The Assistant C.E.O. of the Meteorology Service, Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea, said the expected passage of the bill would give them the authority under the law to sue media outlets for incorrect reporting. 

He said that inaccurate reporting and the use of outdated forecasts by media organisations are major issues faced by the forecasting body. 

“For now, the media outlet, they can do what they like such as media reporting, graphic designs, information that does not reflect well on the Met Office because we don’t have legal framework to guide our work," he said. 

“For example, when we provide information, it should be up-to-date;  sometimes [there is incorrect] pronunciation of technical terms that people don’t understand, so that is why we have this in place. 

“Once it [the bill] is enacted through Parliament than we can be able to sue any media outlet for wrong reporting and providing people with wrong information.”

Currently the major sources of revenue for the Meteorology Service are drilling for geotechnical investigation and climate data, Mulipola said, but the passage of the bill could open the door to an increase in the generation of revenue.  

“Once the bill is passed we will consider charging aviation for providing weather forecasts," he said. 

“There’s no standard payment now for Samoa, for us we will need to look at how we provide charges, our calculation will be based on what is approved by Government because Government collects the revenue as a lump sum.

“We have already done a cost recovery structure and that has already been approved by the Revenue Board.

 “We calculate (charges) upon the hours put into the work, but we also re-adjust the costs according to the available budget and purchasing power of the country, we don’t overcharge based on anything but we align ourselves with the existing budget we have.”

Mulipola said cost recovery will help them to earn revenue in line with the given budget, as the bill says they should be adequately funded in order for them to offer the required services. 

“Weather updates provided for members of the public are free and are excluded from the charges.” 

Mulipola said assets belonging to the Meteorology Service are also included under the bill.

“Once [assets] are lost under the Met Act we can be able to accuse someone who has taken it, all these are under the different clauses of the Act. 

“We always have an asset inventory and because we are part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which has an Act, our obligation is under that particular Act. But this Met Act is specifically for the functions of the Met services.”  

Mulipola said the Act gives them the opportunity to be recognised as a legal entity and work towards improving their services.

By Ivamere Nataro 16 August 2019, 6:00PM

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