P.M. reaffirms Vaiaata prison decision

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has reaffirmed Cabinet's decision to allow prisoners to continue building the Vaiaata Prison in Savai'i, saying it will save Government money.

“The Cabinet decision is for a good reason," Tuilaepa said on his Wednesday media programme. "This will save government money to allow carpenters that are in jail to use their expertise to build the prison."

The Prime Minister's comments follow revelation by the Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, who confirmed that Cabinet had decided against the plan for the Tenders Board to invite bids for the remainder of the project. 

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa cautioned that the Tenders Board is answerable to Cabinet and that Cabinet has the final say.

“Keep in mind, that when Cabinet decides, that is the final decision," Tuilaepa said.

"The Tenders Board is subject to the Cabinet and that the Cabinet does not listen to only two Ministers; they will obey the decision of the Cabinet."

Tuilaepa did not name the "two Ministers" he was referring to.

Two weeks ago, the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, said the Ministry had stopped the construction of the prison in Savai’i because it did not have a permit.

Papali’i is the Vice Chairman of the Tenders Board.

The Chairman is the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, who had also told this newspaper the Vaia’ata project should have been tendered.

But Tuilaepa said Cabinet decisions are not just done recklessly.

“We have received advise that there are good [carpenters] inside the prison," Tuilaepa said.

"All that was required is to have [certified builder] to oversee whether they are following protocols when it comes to carpentry.”  

Tuilaepa did not say who the certified builder was for the Vaiaata Prison project.

An attempt has been made to get a comment from F.A.S.T and opposition Members of Parliament, including Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, who had initially questioned the decision. 

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