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Minister defends $300,000 for Prisons generator

Minister of Prison and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has strongly defended the allocation of $300,000 for a standby generator for the recently opened $18 million Tanumalala Prison facility. 

He said the funding will also cater for a control room for the generator as well as other items.

“The $300,000 is not just for the generator. It will also fund the control room for the generator and other miscellaneous items required,” said Tialavea. 

"We need a standby generator."

In the recently approved Supplementary Budget for Financial Year 2019-2020, a total of $300,000 is allocated for a generator for the Prison and Correction Services. 

Coincidentally, funding of $100,000 is also allocated for a standby generator, but this time for the Ministry of Customs and Revenue. 

When the Samoa Observer queried the Minister on the different cost of the two generators, Tialavea clarified that the generators are different. 

“The one for the prisons is expensive, given that it’s not only the generator that will be purchased from these funds, and this standby generator is 200 kilowatts. There is a control room that will also be funded,” said the Minister. 

Last month Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No 3., La’auli Leuatea Polataivao, queried the $300,000 generator cost in Parliament and made reference to the different prices.

La’auli said an updated quote for his 200KVA generator was about $72,000 while adding that there are unanswered questions about the generator on whether it was second-hand or brand new. 

He queried Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee if they had looked into the costs for the generator, saying the country needs to save money.

He also questioned whether the freight cost for the generator was paid in full at customs and if it was bought from a friend.  

But in response, Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee Chairperson, Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau, explained that from the three bids, the quote of $300,000 was the lowest.

However, Minister Tialavea told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday that the tender is yet to be finalised when queried about the reports. 

“The funding have just been approved and it will go through the tender process soon enough,” he said in a phone interview. 

Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure and Vice Chairman of the Tender Board, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, said the generator should be tendered given the amount. 

He told the Samoa Observer that under the law, the board members can approve tender for $200,000 and any amount up to $500,000 is approved by the Tender board, while any projects costing more than half a million has to be approved by Cabinet. 

“I have not seen the tender papers for the [$300,000] generator for the prison yet but it should be tendered and will take note of it,” Minister Papali’i said. “There has to be fair competition hence the purpose of having the Tender Board and the bid process in place."

In relation to the standby generator for the M.C.R. it will be stationed at the K9 unit at Tuanaimato as a backup system for the Ministry. 

Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said in his Supplementary Budget indicated the standby generator will cost $115,000 for the M.C.R. 

“It is imperative that the Tax Information Management System is not interrupted at any given time due to fluctuations in the electricity or due to prolonged electrical outages,” said Minister Sili. 

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