H.R.P.P. Treasurer explains M.P. payments
The Treasurer of the Human Rights Protection Party has confirmed that H.R.P.P. Members of Parliament have received $16,000 each from the party's own funds to distribute in their constituencies.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Ali'imalemanu, who is the Member of Parliament for Alataua Sisifo, confirmed that each M.P. flying the H.R.P.P. banner was given $8,000 at the end of last year during the measles epidemic in a package designed to support their electorates.
A separate $8,000 was paid recently to each member as part of the party's assistance for the coronavirus pandemic.
She assured that the allocation given to the members is not from the public-funded $200,000 for political parties the H.R.P.P. received in the last fiscal year. The party had donated the $200,000 fund from the Legislative Assembly budget back to the national treasury to help with the response to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
“Those payments [to M.Ps are] from the H.R.P.P. fundraising funds,” said Ali'imalemanu.
“It’s been the norm over the past Parliamentary sittings and it is normally the last two years [of sitting] that the disbursement are paid out to help the M.Ps with their duties and work. The $3,000 that was paid out not long after the General Election  was to help M.Ps because they needed financial support at the time.”
For the party's 46 sitting MP's, the total funds for the past two years come to $828,000.
The H.R.P.P. Treasurer says the allocation for M.Ps is to help with their work in the constituencies where they lend help for electorates’ funerals, opening of new churches and other events.
Compared to previous years she said the disbursement for M.Ps was considerably less, she said, noting that this could be due to the party being unable to go overseas to fundraise She explained the $200,000 fund that the political party gets from Government is kept in a separate account from that of the fundraising.
The M.P. added the $200,000, when the party accepts it, is used to fund the operation of the H.R.P.P. administration; to pay for electricity, water and phone bills, and the lease of their Petesa headquarters.
Another portion of the funds is used to pay for other activities or donations approved by the Executive such as $50,000 given to Samoa Rugby Union and monetary gift to Mapuifagalele, she said.
Aliimalemanu denied claims that the party’s financial accounts are not up to date. She said she has been working on auditing the accounts and they have also sought the opinion of private accountants and auditors.
Furthermore, she said the latest financial accounts should be one of the items on the agenda when the political party's caucus meets next month.
A former Member of the H..R.P.P., Faumuina Wayne Fong, had queried the funds being distributed to the party members. He also claimed that the party's financial accounts had not been discussed and. that when he was a member of the party, he was not granted access to financial statements.
Faumuina said that the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, had accused him of joining the party to gain benefits.
However, he said if this were true, he would have stayed in the party so he could continue to "eat corned beef" with the other M.P.s who received more than $15,000 in financial disbursements from the party.