End contract variations: M.P.
The former Speaker of Parliament has called for an end to variations to Government contracts and for the Tender Board to “walk the talk” on saving taxpayers’ money.
Gagaifomauga No. 3 Member of Parliament, Laaulialemalietoa Leuaatea Schmidt, has called for an immediate halt to the controversial variations to Government contracts.
“These are tricky ways to get more money and the tender board is playing around with taxpayers' money,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“It does not matter whether the variation comes from the Contractor or the government, it should be stopped immediately.”
The M.P. said that he had in the past raised issues about what he considered questionable variations to Government contracts but that his inquiries were flatly denied by the Tender Board.
“And yet look at what we have now, I was right all along about the variations,” said Laauli.
The M.P.’s comments follow the admission by Deputy Chairman of the Tenders Board and Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali'i Niko Lee Hang, that a recent $3 million ground clearing variation contract for the Ti’avea Airport project did not go through a tender process.
Laauli made it clear his comments are not directed to the Ti’avea Airport alone but for all Government projects.
“The Government should conduct feasibility studies prior to taking on any project; there should also be master plans outlined and reviewed thoroughly to avoid variations in the future,” the M.P. said.
“It is like a game to the Government, allowing variations like it’s not a big deal.”
Laauli urged the Government to consider the seriousness of the issue of tenders and the importance of accountability and transparency and the rigours of the tender process.
The M.P., who has been an outspoken critic of the tender process, earlier this month rejected a report from the Finance and Expenditure Committee which found he “illegally” imported a generator.
That investigation arose after the M.P. claimed to have successfully imported a generation for a fraction of the $300,000 that had been spent on a generator for the new Tanumalala prison.
In January, the M.P. said variations end up costing the public money.
The M.P.'s comments drew a swift rebuke from Tuilaepa, who moved a motion requiring the M.P. to provide paperwork to back up his claims to the Finance Committee for an investigation.