'Abuse, dishonesty' drives vehicle takeover
Cabinet has stripped state-owned enterprises of the right to buy and sell Government vehicles because of concerns about the abuse of tendering processes and dishonest management of Government assets.
Control of the Government's fleet will now be centralised in the Ministry of Finance (M.O.F.), according to an F.K. (Cabinet Directive) (19) 45 that was issued last month and signed by Agafili Shem Leo, the head of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
According to the F.K. after deliberation it was determined that the Finance Ministry take charge of the public auction, tender and sale of government vehicles at the government compound in Vaimea.
“This is to eliminate the removal of car parts at the time [a car is] parked at Vaimea; the vehicles should be monitored to assure the vehicles are secured until it is auctioned," according to the document, which has been translated from Samoan.
"This is effective immediately as of the date the F.K. was issued and the proceeds of the auction or sale will be transferred to the respective Ministry or Corporation".
The Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali'i Niko Lee Hang, confirmed the directive in response to questions from this newspaper and said that state-owned enterprises (S.O.E.) had stopped auctioning off their vehicles.
“There were some issues in the past regarding the auctions conducted by the S.O.E.s whereas it was on the docket for tender and yet the management of that entity ended up winning the auction and to avoid those types of deals, the auction and tender is now the responsibility of [the Finance Ministry]," he said.
The Minister said Cabinet was made aware of an incident involving a dishonest tender process for a state-owned vehicle which had to be put out to tender a second time.
He said the change was necessary to protect the integrity of the Government's tender process.
“The tender process was abused hence the move to delegate the responsibility to the [Finance Ministry] to assure accountability," Papali’i said.
“And I am all for these new changes, as you know history will repeat itself unless we act to eliminate [dishonest] acts".
The F.K. also reveals plans for the Government to begin the construction of its own exclusive petrol station.
“Government vehicles are to receive their petrol from the Government’s petrol stations and this will become effective once the station is open," the directive reads.
“For Savai’i, the [Finance Ministry] has been instructed to contract a petrol station for all Government vehicles to utilise. And they must adhere to policies in place until such a time the government builds a petrol station for Savai’i.”
The head of the Finance Ministry, Leasiosio Oscar Malielegao, said that the new rules would ensure consistency between state-owned enterprises.
"We have policies on Government written off assets and an auction framework in place," he said in response to e-mailed questions.
"The Directive will ensure our policies are consistently applied across the board and strictly adhered to, by all Government agencies."
Leasiosio also confirmed that the new gas station would be built on Government land at Tuana’imato, while an existing Pesega facility currently leased by the Government would be returned to a private operator.
Cabinet also reconfirmed that the process for purchasing new vehicles will take place twice a year: in February and July.
An earlier directive, passed at a Cabinet meeting in June last year, approved the purchasing of Government vehicles in bulk to save funds and prevent the addition of unnecessary accessories.
“[The] bulk purchase of vehicles will allow discounts,” noted the directive.
“This method will also make it easier to monitor the purchase of appropriate vehicles for work and low cost for Government.
“The purchase of expensive vehicles with unnecessary accessories is also disbarred. This will also assist in cheaper insurance for Government vehicles.”
Another condition requires the Ministry of Finance to review applications to purchase new vehicles before submission to Cabinet for final approval.