H.R.P.P. gives back $200,000
The ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) has given back a $200,000 allocation from the Legislative Assembly, it is entitled to under 2020-2021 budget, to assist the country’s coronavirus pandemic response.
This was confirmed in a press statement issued by the Press Secretariat in response to an article published by the Samoa Observer titled “Ruling H.R.P.P. gets $200,000 from Legislative Assembly".
The statement said the allocation has been reabsorbed back in the budget to assist the country in its collective response to covid-19 following a decision from Cabinet approved almost a month ago.
“The decision to reprioritize the said allocation is a Cabinet directive and this has been executed accordingly,” the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, is quoted as saying.
The statement adds that being very mindful of government’s tireless efforts to keep Samoa Covid-free, the unanimous decision from H.R.P.P. is to assist efforts to safeguard Samoa from the virus.
The annual allocation is distributed to registered political parties recognised in Parliament as required under the House Standing Orders.
A Political Party is mandated to have no less than 8 members of Parliament to be recognised in the Legislative Assembly, and to qualify for this allocation.
According to the statement, the funding was introduced 30 years ago by the former Prime Minister, the late Tofilau Eti Alesana.
It was designed to assist political parties to perform and conduct their prescribed duties and responsibilities in compliance with good governance principles and to prevent any likely occurrence of malpractice.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, H.R.P.P. Treasurer and M.P., Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau, said the party had discussed the return of the funds at the start of lockdown.
“I am aware there were discussions before July to give back the $200,000 considering the situation the country is in,” said Ali'imalemanu.
“I did not attend the meeting where it was approved but I was told that was the decision by the party…”
Asked how the party utilised the funding in the past, the H.R.P.P. Treasurer said majority of it was used for donation to the Home of the Elders at Mapuifagalele, rugby incentives and others.
Aliimalemanu said a portion of it is used for the H.R.P.P’s operation and on any other activity that the executive approves of.
The annual $200,000 fund is one of the major expenses allocated under the Government Policies and Initiatives item in the 2020-2021 budget of $6.8 million for Legislative Assembly.
In response to queries from Samoa Observer, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei said the allocation of $200,000 for political parties will not be utilised by their Office.
"Cabinet has already resolved as per Cabinet Directive (5th August 2020) for transferral of this allocation to the Ministry of Finance to assist with Covid-19 prevention," he said.