P.M. denies $20,000 fundraising claim
The Whip of the Human Rights Protection Party has dismissed reports its incumbent M.P.s have each received $20,000 in campaign funding saying they only received one-tenth of that amount.
Speaking on TV3 this week, the Prime Minister was asked about the ruling party’s campaign funding arrangements and was questioned about claims that party members received $20,000 war chests for campaigning.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the party fundraised only via private means without providing a direct response to the question.
But he went on to presume that the source for the information was a report in the Samoa Observer.
(The Samoa Observer has not written any recent stories about fundraising by any political parties recently, except to reveal the amount of overseas fundraising by Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.).
Nonetheless, the Prime Minister went on to say: “These are our works, and as you all know when there are matters that tarnish the reputation of the H.R.P.P. it is printed on the paper. But you don’t see them doing the same to other [political parties].
“That is how they operate. They have this mindset that they can remove a Government from office, but in reality it makes people turn against them and not want to buy the paper.”
But on Friday the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) Whip, Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu, confirmed that the unsourced figure was significantly inflated when asked by the Samoa Observer.
“We only received $2,000 each last week and that is the only money we can spare,” said Alai’asa.
“When you talk about $20,000 each that would be close to a million and we don’t have that kind of money.”
But the Whip also confirmed that there was some discontent among party members on the party’s September decision to return a $200,000 allocation of public election funding to Government coffers in recognition of the nation’s economic decline.
“Some members of the Human Rights Protection Party were not happy about that decision, because there was no consultation among the party whether to return that allocated funding,” Alai’asa said.
But he said the party does not have the financial ability to hand out $20,000 to each of its members.
On TV3, the Prime Minister said the H.R.P.P. was not getting any financial assistance from the Government as is usual. Any funds they are giving to their members are their own,” he said.
“We opted to return the [standard $200,000] allocated funds back to the [Ministry of Finance] to assist with the COVID19 preparations.
“The funds allocated started prior to our time, but as indicated earlier, the H.R.P.P. opted not to take the funds allocated from the Government to assist the party.”
“The funds remain with the Government and it is now under the estimates of the budget for the current financial year, to assist with the preparations of the COVID-19.
“But we do have our funds collected during [H.R.P.P.] birthdays. And those funds go to pay for our expenses.
“Also we are saving funds to reimburse the candidates that do return, as our [new] policy, we will only refund [the $1,000] for candidate registration if that member wins the election.
Last year the H.R.P.P. Treasurer confirmed that each party member received $16,000 each from the party's own funds to distribute in their constituencies.
Last year M.P. and H.R.P.P. Treasurer, Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, said each M.P. flying the H.R.P.P. banner was given $8,000 at the end of 2019 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 was not from the public funding allocation due to the party.
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.