$10million loan for prison
The Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S) has come to the rescue.
It has approved a $10 million loan from the Ministry of Prison and Correction Services for the proposed Tanugamalala Prison.
The approval follows a failed plan to attract donors to fund the new prison facility.
The Minister of Revenue, who is also responsible for Prisons, Tialavea Seigafolava Hunt. confirmed the loan yesterday.
He said no one had come forth to help in funding the new prison.
“We also plan to pull down (facilities) at Tafaigata and use the materials at the new prison,” Tialavea told the Samoa Observer yesterday.
Asked how the Ministry plans to pay back the loan at U.T.O.S. the Minister said they have a plan.
“From the government budget,” he explained.
He declined to go into details saying he will explain everything later.
In August this year, Tialavea said there was a $9 million shortfall in funding the new prison at Tanugamalala.
He said the Ministry was allocated $1 million from government, less than a quarter of the targeted amount of $10 million needed for the project.
The relocation of Tafaigata prison to Tanugamalala is for the construction of eight buildings including a medical clinic and a rehabilitation center.
According to Tialavea in August, the Ministry’s $1 million was for preparation of the prison works.
“That was to prepare the roads, electricity, water and other things,” he said.
“At the moment we are currently looking for funds to fund the actual prison buildings.”
The Ministry of Prisons was given a total budget of $5 million for this financial year. From that amount, $1 million goes towards prison preparations, nearly $3 million goes to wages while $360,000 is allocated for food at prison for the 12 months.
The prison population continues to climb with numbers far exceeding the capacity of officers employed there.
Tialavea explained that there are only 53 staff handling the prisoners with 20 of them being sworn in.
The other 30 unsworn officers are running the administration and rehabilitation works. As to how the Authority handles the overcrowded prison, Tialavea said culture is the answer.
“It’s run like a village where there is an elderly matai who looks after each cell,” he said. “We cannot move away from our culture and it has shown that it works…we cannot afford more staff.”