La'auli hits back on business accusations
Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No.3., La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, has rejected the Prime Minister’s claims he underperformed when in Cabinet because he instead focused on running his businesses.
Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi made the comments during his weekly programme on 2AP last week.
While Laa'uli did not deny being called a "businessman" he did not welcome the accusations from Tuilaepa that he did not succeed during his time in office because of his businesses.
"I'm a businessman," La'auli told the Samoa Observer.
"I was born as a businessman. My father and mother, that's our profession and my family are business people.
"My father went in (Parliament) with many businesses and everybody knows about that.
"His legacy stays there.
"The proof is in his constituency, and that's why he stood as an M.P. for more than forty years, the longest-serving member. Because he took care of his people. He never did business with the Government.
"He did businesses outside to help the nation."
La'auli says he is continuing the legacy of his late father, Polataivao Fosi Schmidt.
"That's the continuation I am doing now,” the newly re-elected member said.
"I never affiliate any business with the government, my businesses are to serve the people, with the supermarket and gas station, it is for the serving of the public.
"Whatever I get, it goes back to serve my constituency."
Turning to Tuilaepa, La'auli suggested that the Prime Minister should stop "pointing his finger at him" but look at his own Ministers first.
"He has always been pointing to me on that, just like what he did with NetVo (the company tasked with rolling out a free-wifi project for schools).
“My businesses have nothing to do with [any] Government affiliation, but [are] for the benefit of everyone involved. That's also similar to the Nonu business I had; it was for my constituency, where we get $250,000 every year from land lease and for exporting [nonu].
"Why would he call me out instead of looking at his Ministers? His Associate Minister is still in contract with the Government.
"Who is in charge of the construction of the prison? It's the family of the Minister of Revenue.
"Who is in charge of the construction of the fence? It's the children of the Minister of Agriculture. And there are other Ministers who are behind so many other deals with the government. So don't point the finger on me, instead of looking at his men on his side.
"Ask his men first."
The former Cabinet Minister reiterated that he did not fail during his tenure.
"Whatever business I do, it's not for me, but for Samoa and the community. The projects that I am working on is for Samoa,” he said.
"But for those other guys in Government, [businesses are] for their own bellies."
Attempts to get a response from the Government regarding La'auli’s claims were unsuccessful.