New policy for Ministers to 'lessen burden': Olo

The Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) Government has put in place a new policy where not all Cabinet Ministers will attend village project openings, except for the responsible Minister, Associate Minister and the C.E.O. of the Ministry.

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Olo Fiti Vaai, revealed the new policy in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Wednesday.

He said the new policy is being implemented by the Government in order to “lessen the burden” on villages in terms of traditional exchanges.

“We all know what the previous Government did during such events, the whole Cabinet including the former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa [Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi] would attend,” he said.

“This puts so much pressure on the villages during traditional exchanges; they end up spending so much money preparing for fa’aaloaloga (traditional gifts) for the line of Ministers in attendance.

“That’s something we do not want and we have established that it will not happen in this administration.

“It is something the Prime Minister has advised against doing and we are putting it (the policy) in place starting with the Manono wharf opening on Wednesday.”

Olo added that there is no reason why the whole Cabinet should attend the event, when only the responsible Minister and Associate Minister, as well as the C.E.O. of the Ministry concerned should attend.

Speaking to this newspaper after the opening of the Manono wharf on Wednesday, he said the practice by the previous Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) Government is that when all the Cabinet Ministers attend villages had to prepare over 10 gifts for the Ministers.

“We experience from the past that when all the Ministers attend, the villages prepare more than 10 cultural gifts (sua and faatamalii) as a token of their appreciation,” he said.

“But we decided to help them and reduce those things and focus on providing good services for the people.”

Under the F.A.S.T. Government, the cutting of the ribbon for public projects will become the responsibility of the M.P. of the constituency, according to Olo. 

The chiefs and orator of Manono expressed relief when they heard of the new Government’s policy and said it would help economic growth in their community as well as assist their budget. 

They said they also felt privileged that they were the first to hear of the new policy announced by the new Government. 

The commissioning of a new Manono wharf funded by the Embassy of Japan is the first project launching to be overseen by the new F.A.S.T. Government, after coming to power close to two weeks ago.

• Extra reporting by Ueni Peauala Pauulu.

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