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Govt. spends $2.6 million a year on village representatives

The Government's spends $2.6 million a year on the nation's 256 Village Mayors and 200 Female Representatives.

The figure was revealed in Parliament by the Minister for Women, Community and Social Development, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama.

He was responding to the question of whether the Government would consider the addition of village and sub-village representation. 

“When we have the resources, we will consider appointing more Village Mayors and Female Representatives for the villages and sub villages, but for the time being we don’t have the resources,” said the Minister. 

The Minister said it would be good if the men and women were working on a volunteer basis. 

“But that is not the case and we have to consider the funds available within the Ministry to allow [for the funding of] these appointments," the Minister said. 

The Ministry is also moving to officially register the Komiti-o-Tina (Women’s Committee). 

Tuitama explained the Komiti-o-Tina should be registered as an official Government committee as there was now a proliferation of committees at a village level.  

The Minister also clarified the process for selecting village Mayors (Sui o Nuu) and female representatives (Sui o Tamaitai). 

“[For] the Sui o Nuu, the recommendation is made by the Village Councils in writing to the C.E.O. of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, and then it is referred to the Minister who will submit the nomination to Cabinet for their approval," he said. 

The Minister said there was confusion regarding the law's influence on the selection of women's representatives. 

“Under the Amendment Act 2009 –the selection of the Sui Tamaitai o Nuu (female representatives) – is endorsed by the Women’s Committee ‘Komiti o Tina’ however it does not say which Komiti o Tina; as there are many women’s committees in the villages," he said.

Tuitama said each respective village needed one Women's Committee so that the Ministry could have a single point for consultation and so that the body could then appointment sub-committees focused on village projects relating to health, beautification, farming etc.  

But one Member of Parliament, Namulau’ulu Papali’i Leota, noted that in Sapapali’i there are three separate sub-villages and two Village Mayors. 

“The concern posed to your Ministry [is] as to why there are two villages mayors in one village and yet only one female representative," said Namulau’ulu. 

"The request is to consider that if there are two mayors then there should be two female representatives. This is to assure the efficiency in carrying out their duties within the village."

The Minister explained that laws were made in respect of villages alone. 

“For your information the law [...] does not say sub villages. And while there is the village and the sub village, the [terminology is] the same," he said.

“If there is an issue, take the matter to court and let the court define [if] these are two separate villages and then we will consider it."

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