La'auli cautions about contract variations
Member of Parliament, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata'ivao, has expressed concerns about variations being made by contractors to the cost of contracts awarded by the Government, describing them as “trickery.”
Laauli raised the issue on Parliament on Tuesday night during the debate on the Supplementary Budget for the Financial Year 2019-2020.
He urged the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, to look at the Government’s priorities considering the budget allocated for the projects.
“One must consider what priority is and be conservative; you have the ability to see through Government projects, cut back on what is unnecessary," he said.
"You are the 16th Minister of Finance since [independence] in 1961 and that is a milestone. Your calling is important as was your first budget address you highlighted the importance of living within your means.”
Laauli then turned to the Tenders Board, where Sili is Chairman and Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Papali'i Niko Lee Hang, is the Deputy Chairman.
"My concerns is something for you to consider; these [contract] variations are conducted in a trickery manner," La'auli said.
The Member of Parliament did not name any particular contract, nor did he refer to a sector.
But he said variations are costing the country.
“When the Tenders Board has signed and allocated funds for a project, the contractor must complete the project, but don’t submit the lowest bid just to win the tender and in the end move for a variation of the project.”
He said the public end up paying for these contract variations.
Laauli urged Ministers Sili and Papali’i to think about the concerns raised about contract variations.
“And yet some [companies] are playing with it. They love playing [with variations]. Nothing is hidden, the public are witnessing what is happening.”
According to Laauli, the H.R.P.P. has been in power for nearly 40 years and to date the Government continues to borrow in order to fulfill goals and development infrastructure.
The M.P. urged the Government to consider ways where it does not need to take out loans.
“We should look for ways that we can avoid this and utilise the benefits of our work. The Government should look at luring in stakeholders for the Government to fund our projects.”
He challenged the Government to consider the products available at the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.).
“The private sector can’t do it, they have no resources, and even if a company does invest in taking our product overseas – it will not be recognized. But if the Government steps in and sell it to other Governments, it will work.
“They will consider the mutual relationship from one Government to another.”